Unlike dogs, most cats are not big gulpers or slurpers at the water bowl. And I’ve yet to see any feline expert able to consistently train a cat to drink water on cue. But like dogs, cats need ample daily supplies of water to keep their coats shiny as well as their skin and organs well hydrated. In fact, a cat’s body is made up of about 70 percent water.
For insights into H20 for cats, we turned to a champion of all cats: Ernie Ward, DVM, America’s Pet Advocate and a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners’ cat friendly practice advisory council.
How much water should an adult cat drink each day to stay hydrated?
Dr. Ward: Because cats evolved in the desert plains of Mesopotamia, they require a little less than an ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. An average 10-pound domestic short hair indoor cat will typically need to drink 7 to 10 ounces of water per day.
Why should we care if our cats don’t always drink this recommended daily amount of water? Of if they seem to be drinking excessively?
Dr. Ward: The biggest problem of water consumption in pets involves excessive drinking. If your cat is suddenly lapping at the water dish frequently, drinking from unusual sources (like the toilet bowl) or is urinating more than normal, have him examined by your veterinarian immediately. Diseases that cause increased thirst include kidney and liver disease, diabetes, hormonal imbalances and cancer. One in three cats will experience kidney disease.
If a cat isn’t a big water drinker, is there a Plan B to ensure he stays hydrated?
Dr. Ward: Feeding a canned diet is an excellent way to provide water for your cat. Canned food is between 70 to 80 percent water.
Any ideas to jazz up water sources for our cats, especially if their primary food source is kibble and not canned food?
Dr. Ward: Many cats seem to prefer fresh, running water from a pet drinking fountain or circulating water bowl. While it’s unclear why many felines prefer bubbly water, one theory is that running water signals safety. Cats may have evolved with a preference for running water because still, stagnant water can harbor infectious parasites, fungi and bacteria.
Drink up these tips:
• Serve water in wide, stainless steel bowls as most cats do not like to have their whiskers scrunched inside narrow food or water bowls.
• Locate a few water bowls throughout your house, strategically placed near areas your cat spends most of his time. And park the water bowl far enough away from the food bowl so that food pieces don’t end up as floaties in the water bowl—a big ‘yuck’ for most dignified cats.
• Provide your cat with bottled water when traveling to minimize his chance of gastrointestinal upset from drinking less-than-pure water from a hotel faucet.
By Sarah Zumhofe