By Sari Reis
Water makes up 80 percent of your cat’s body and is the most important nutrient they need. Unfortunately, as descendants from desert-living felines who got most of their water from their kills, drinking water from a bowl doesn’t come naturally for many of our domesticated cats.
Although some cats have adapted fairly easily, other cats may exist in a constant state of mild dehydration. This ongoing state can lead to serious repercussions including bladder stones, feline cystitis and other urinary tract infections. To prevent these potentially dangerous conditions, it is vital to ensure your kitty is consuming a sufficient amount of water to produce diluted urine.
One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to switch your kitty from eating dry food to a quality canned food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that is substantially higher in moisture content.
As cats can be finicky eaters, this may take some time, patience and experimentation as you attempt to find a canned food your kitty will eat on a regular basis. You can initially try mixing the canned food in with the dry. If that fails and you have gone through a variety of foods, try adding water to his dry food. Human-grade tuna juice or unsalted chicken broth may also work when added to dry kibble. Patience and perseverance are important here.
Other methods for encouraging more water consumption include:
- Make sure there is plenty of access to clean, fresh water at all times and in several locations.
- Keep water bowls immaculately clean.
- Move water dishes away from food bowls as many cats do not like their water close to their food.
- Try adding ice cubes to their water.
- Since cats have a highly developed sense of smell, they may prefer bottled, filtered or distilled water over tap water
- If your kitty likes to drink water from the kitchen or bathroom faucet, your cat may prefer a drinking fountain to a bowl. If you decide to go this route, remember not all automatic drinking fountains are created equal. I suggest you go with a ceramic or stainless steel fountain. Avoid plastic as it cannot be properly cleaned and can harbor a host of bacteria. That being said, it is essential to clean your cat’s water fountain regularly, at least once a week. Just refilling it when it gets low, will allow harmful bacteria to continue to grow.
These are just a few suggestions that may work. I have seen kitties drink only from a highball glass filled to the brim and set in a certain spot and some that will drink only from a running faucet. With the water shortage in California, this is not optimal. Do not permit your cat to drink from the toilet no matter how clean you keep it. Many cleaning agents could be toxic, and it is still loaded with bacteria and other potentially harmful organisms.
Trial and error may be the key here but ensuring your furry feline is drinking sufficient water will pay off dividends in his good health.
_Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information, you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.