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How Much Water Should a Cat Drink?

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A tabby cat drinking out of a glass of water.

Famed veterinarian and author James Herriot has noted that “cats are connoisseurs of comfort.” When we think of comfort for our cats, items like soft cat beds and tasty cat treats come to mind. But we should also think about a clean full bowl of water. Hydration is an extremely important part of your cat’s overall health. Exactly how much water should a cat drink every day? And how can you make sure your feline is getting enough water?

How much water should a cat drink? It depends on a few factors.

Cat with a food bowl looking hungry.

How much water should a cat drink? The answer varies. Photography ©GlobalP | Getty Images.

How much water should a cat drink? The amount of water consumption depends on a variety of factors, including the size of your cat, the time of year and whether your cat’s diet includes wet cat food or dry cat food only. If cats are given dry food only, they will require significantly more supplemental water to stay acceptably hydrated. Normally, a cat will require 2-4 ounces of fresh water in addition to his food. Dry food is only 10 percent water, while canned is approximately 80 percent water. So obviously your cat is going to drink a lot more water if you are providing dry food only.

How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Getting Enough Water?

When answering, “How much water should a cat drink,” there are a few simple signs that will tell you if your cat is hydrated — or if your cat is getting dehydrated:

  1. Skin elasticity. Gently pull the skin at the base of your cat’s neck (scruff). The skin should spring back when you release it. If it does not, your cat might not be getting enough water.
  2. A shiny coat without dry flakes is a sign of hydration.
  3. Your cat should exhibit normal physical activity and not be overly lethargic.
  4. Is your cat urinating 2-3 times per day? You can tell if this is happening by checking your cat’s litter box for medium-sized clumps.

What Can I Do To Encourage My Cat To Drink More Water?

Is your cat not drinking water, or not drinking enough water? You can lead a cat to water, but can you make him drink? Water is essential to your cat’s health and can even be instrumental in helping to prevent some severe health issues such as feline urological syndrome. There are a few steps you can make to encourage kitty to stay hydrated:

  1. Sprinkle a little more water on top of your pet’s canned food. This is not recommended for dry food as it may cause it to spoil more rapidly.
  2. Try using glass or stainless steel water bowls. Sometimes plastic leaves a taste that cats don’t like. Plastic cat bowls may also cause cat acne.
  3. Always make sure the water is fresh and clean. Refresh your cat’s water bowl daily.
  4. Use filtered water instead of tap water. The latter can be heavily chlorinated or have too high a concentration of minerals.

When asking, “How much water should a cat drink,” it’s very important to pay attention to your cat’s “normal” water consumption and take note if that amount happens to change. Any significant increase or decrease in your cat’s daily water intake could be a sign of illness. A cat drinking too much water or too little water could be indicative of a urinary cystitis (bladder infection), tapeworm infestation, diabetes or hyperthyroidism. It’s time for a trip to your vet if you notice excessive changes in your cat’s daily water intake.

Some Fast Facts About Cats Drinking Water

  1. Many cats, while not wanting to be completely immersed in water, are fascinated by running water. If you don’t have a cat that likes to play with a dripping faucet or watch water being flushed down a toilet, you’ve probably seen a video of one on the Internet. Purchasing an automatic water fountain may be one way to get your cat to consume more water.
  2. Some cats don’t like the taste of “hard” water which is high in concentrates of mineral salts. Try offering distilled or filtered water instead.
  3. It might be necessary to rinse your cat’s water bowl a couple of times a day during the warmer months of the year when bacteria can form quickly.
  4. Benjamin Franklin once noted in Poor Richard’s almanac that “when the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” It’s not necessary to wait that long to know what it’s worth for your cat or kitten. Make sure that water bowl is filled to the brim with fresh clean water every day and you’ll contribute greatly to your cat’s health.

Thumbnail: Photography by sarkao / Shutterstock.

July is the CHILL ZONE on Catster.com! Learn how to keep your cat cool, calm and collected this summer with articles on preventing summer mishaps, staving off stress and more. 

This piece was originally published in 2009.

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