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Can I Get My Cat to Drink More Water?

Get Cats to Drink More Water and Help Prevent Kidney Disease.

Get Cats to Drink More Water and Help Prevent Kidney Disease.

Can I Get My Cat to Drink More Water?

The importance of water cannot be underestimated for cats! One in three cats will get kidney disease. This is a shocking and terrifying statistic!

Water consumption and hydration are major factors in developing kidney disease. The more water consumed (to a point) the easier it is for the kidneys to flush toxins out of the body. You want your cat to drink plenty of water but some cats just don’t get enough. So if you are asking “Can I get my cat to drink more water?”, check out these easy tips.

Cats are picky as we know. The easiest way to get them to drink more water is to make it desirable for them. It is nearly impossible to force a cat to drink. They have to want to! Here are some easy ways.

How to Get a Cat to Drink More Water

  • Make it easy by putting multiple cat water bowls around the house in various places. Cats like options. If the water bowl is in a location where they don’t normally go or don’t want to be (it may be noisy, crowded, busy etc) they won’t drink as much as they could. I noticed my cats drank more often when I added another water bowl in a different location. I added the second one near their dry food bowl and they often take a drink after they eat the dry food. This is good since dry food itself is the greatest cause of dehydration in cats. In nature they would never eat a dry food.
  • Make water desirable by always keeping water bowls clean and making clean water available. Water bowls need to be washed often and should be wiped out (even if they look clean) every day between washings. I just wipe mine out with a paper towel every day and put in fresh water.
  • Use water bowls that keep the water clean tasting. Don’t use plastic bowls. They could add a plastic taste to the water. They also leach dangerous chemicals especially if they are in hot water or the dishwasher. Use a stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowl. I recommend the following characteristics in bowls to make your life easier and your cat’s life better.
    • A large bowl. What if you are stuck away from home longer than you expect? Wouldn’t it be nice to know your cat has water even if you are gone unexpectedly overnight? It is also nice to now worry that they are always running out of water and a with a larger bowl is easier to keep water from sloping over the side when you set it back down.
    • A bowl with a rubber bottom on the outside to keep it from moving across the floor. This is more of an issue with food bowls but helps for water too.
    • A bowl with steep sides! If a bowl has shallow, angled sides the water slopes out and makes a mess (however, keep in mind some cats don’t like their whiskers to touch the edges of the bowl so if that is the case you would need a very large bowl).
    • Curved bottom edges so it is easy to clean but a flat bottom (once again to keep water from sloping out).
    • A smooth interior so it is easy to keep clean. I have seen some interesting looking hammered metal bowls but I don’t want any texture inside.
    • I recommend you look around Amazon to find one. There can be a very disappointing selection at pet food stores. Here is one type I use and like. It meets all the above criteria. Stainless steel inside, rubber bottom, steep sides, flat bottom, smooth interior and comes in a wide variety of sizes. They even come with different colors and patterns on the outside. Don’t be afraid to get a “dog” bowl if you need to find a large enough size vs a “cat” bowl regardless of which brand you choose. Many cat bowls are just too small to be practical for water. This is the Loving Pets brand Bella Bowl. They claim to be the best selling pet bowl brand and I can see why. They are great! They come in many sizes, styles, colors and finishes such as metallic. They are often only about $5 on sale!

  • Try a water fountain if your cats like running water. Many cats prefer running water! If a fountain gets them to drink more, then it is worth it to prevent kidney disease. There are many fountains out there. Check out all these options on Amazon. Here is the fountain I got since it is stainless steel unlike many of the others that are plastic.

  • Some cats like drinking from a faucet instead of a bowl.
  • Add a flavoring to the water if necessary. I do not do this but some cats like broth or other flavoring in their water. Just make sure it doesn’t have too much salt. Use a low sodium broth.
  • Give your cats more wet instead of dry cat food. This is an easy way to get them to take in more water since they don’t even have to drink. If you already feed wet food you can also add more water to it.

I am lucky my cats are good about drinking water. Make sure yours get plenty too. Keep it clean and fresh and give them options.

Let me know how you get your cats to drink water or if you have any comments below!

Jessica

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16 Comments

  1. Wendy Golden

    Good information. Thank you. I have three cats and they’re all pretty good about drinking water. They also love the faucet. So when I”m home and I go to the bathroom they follow me. I turn on the faucet in the bathroom for a little bit and they jump on the sink for a drink from the faucet. You are right about the bowls. I have three water bowls around my apartment. One of my cats if very timid and doesn’t like high traffic areas. So a water bowl in a quiet corner of my bedroom is perfect for her. I wish I could get her to eat wet food as well. The other two like their wet food feeding twice a day, but the timid one hates wet food. Do you have any suggestions for cats that won’t eat wet food? Thanks again for this helpful site.

    Reply
    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Wendy.
      What kinds of wet food have you tried? Do you think it is the taste or the texture she doesn’t like? My cats all love it so it is hard for me to imagine how to deal with one not liking it. There are some that are pate style of course. Mine don’t like that as much as wet foods that have chunks or bits in them.There are some that have a ton of “gravy”, they prefer chunks with gravy.

      I feed mine Authority brand which has this chunks with gravy consistency (just make sure you look at the cans and don’t get the pate ones). Purina Pro Plan also has a line that is much higher quality than the cheap foods but not so ridiculously expensive. Once again make sure you get the right texture.

      There is a brand called Soulistic which makes canned cat food that is very good. It does not smell or look like regular cat food. It looks good enough to eat…seriously, it seems to be human quality food. These have a stew type texture with real meat like chicken and chunks of vegetables like pumpkin and a sauce. Maybe try a can of that just to see if she likes it? That is where I would start since it is so different than regular canned cat food.

      Please let me know how it goes. I would be very interested to know if she likes the Soulistic food or one of these others.
      Thanks for your question!
      Jessica

      Reply
  2. Pam

    Wonderful information, I have fostered cats for a local no kill cat shelter and have had as many as 21 cats at one time, there are always a few that are very finicky about where they drink from, I’ve had a few that would only drink outside rainwater from puddles

    If I had the fountains maybe they would have used them.
    Thank You for sharing your research
    Pam

    Reply
    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Pam,
      Wow! Fostering 21 cats is amazing! You are a great cat person!
      I am lucky all of my cats are happy to drink from bowls. They definitely drink more when there are more bowls available though.

      Thank you for your comments and stopping by!
      Jessica

      Reply
  3. Stephanie

    Nice post. I noticed a few years ago that my would barely touch her water. Once I moved it to an area far away from her food she seemed to be more attracted to it. Another thing that drastically changed her drinking habits was transferring her water from a stainless steel bowl to a glass CUP. My cat must not be the only one that likes drinking out of their humans water glass?! Once she had one all to herself she has been drinking water nonstop. Definitely one of the best ideas I’ve ever had lol.

    Reply
    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Very interesting Stephanie! Cats are very individualistic so it is not surprising different cats have different tastes in water habits! It is smart to try different things to see what they like. You figured that out, so good for you! My cats don’t seem to prefer the stainless steel bowl or ceramic bowl they have.

      Thanks for your comment and stopping by,
      Jessica

      Reply
  4. John ツ

    Thanks for sharing this very useful information Jessica. I thought that cats had a life of their own and would normally do what they want to do, not what we humans want them to do. Your article proves me wrong, and why I am interested in your copy is because my wife and myself are international house and pets sitters. We often have cats to look after when the owners go on their travels.

    We have never worried about the cats not drinking enough, although we always had a bowl of water available for them, while dogs yes. So, from now on thanks to you we will be more careful and do what you recommend.

    Thanks for sharing.

    John ツ

    Reply
    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Thanks John,
      Water is actually more important for cats than dogs since they are more prone to kidney disease if they don’t get enough. Male cats are especially prone to it and even I was shocked to learn 1 in 3 cats will get it! That seems very high. This is largely due to feeding dry food which they just aren’t built for. I still feed mine dry food but I make sure they get wet too and that they drink lots of water. Since I lost my first cat to kidney failure and had to give him fluids through an IV every day I don’t ever want that to happen again.

      Hopefully when you pet sit the owners will have the house set up for easy access to plenty of clean water but if not it is easy to just get a bowl out of the cupboard and fill it up!

      Thank you for your comments and story!
      Jessica

      Reply
  5. Joe

    We (my next door neighbor) and will definitely put this information to good use. We are in the process of getting a handle on the stray cat population–in a good way. In Louisville, through the Kentucky Humane Society “Alley Cats” is a program that provides spaying, neutering, immunizations and any medical attention needed to “stray” cats brought to them, AT NO CHARGE!!! The individuals get humane traps from Alley Cats, trap the cats, bring the cats to them and after Alley Cats does whatever is required, return the cats to the area they were captured in. We just took 7 to them, got 6 back, and one has some medical issues that Alley Cats will watch for a couple of weeks. It’s a great program, and the strays we brought back are doing fine.

    Thanks for your information and best wishes,

    Joe

    Reply
    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Good for you Joe! That is wonderful you are helping the stray cats and they get immunization and everything no charge! I wish more places had programs that did that! It would certainly do worlds of good to get the stray populations down and get them medical care as well.

      Thanks!
      Jessica

      Reply
  6. Craig

    I’ve personally noticed the biggest change after getting a water fountain. One of my cats would only drink out of a tall glass, and even then not often. The other I don’t think I saw drink much at all. Since I picked up a water fountain I see them drinking every day now, they love the moving water!

    I’d personally recommend the Catit Fountain, I’ve had great luck with it. The only real drawback is it is made of plastic. The Raindrop is a great option if you prefer Stainless though, so good choice!

    Reply
    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment Craig. It is interesting how picky cats can be and how individualistic! Some like bowls, some like fountains, some like faucets and some prefer puddles outside! I worry the fountains are harder to clean than a regular bowl. How do you clean yours and how often?
      Jessica

      Reply
  7. Fleur

    Water for cats is so important I agree Jessica. Well drinking it anyway. Gone are the days of thinking milk is good for cats. I always have a lovely ceramic bowl on a placemat size mat on the floor for a food bowl and a water bowl. I also prefer separate bowls than the ones connected together. I live in a warm climate so always change the water daily. Thanks for the reminders – so important!

    Reply
    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Fleur,

      Thank you for stopping by. Yes, water is best for cats. I don’t give mine milk anymore either. I let them lick yogurt if they want as a treat but not more than a lick unless it is unsweetened since sugar is bad for them. They love whipped cream too but once again, only a lick and preferably unsweetened. I have read that cats can’t taste sweetness! That is interesting but makes sense.

      I agree about the connected bowls. They don’t make any sense to me. If you want to change the water you don’t want to dump out the food and having the food close to the water just makes it more likely they will get food bits in the water and make it dirty.

      Thanks,
      Jessica

      Reply
  8. Steve T

    Very helpful tips, Jessica. Our cats don’t have an obvious drinking problem, but it is tough to know. Chip drinks a lot, and we see it, but Alberta is more discrete about water consumption. My wife sees her drink, but I almost never do; not much of a concern though, as she eats wet food, and licks up all the ‘gravy’ every day.

    I would like to know if there is a good way to check on their water consumption to make sure they are getting enough.

    We used to use a plastic water bowl until we found that it was irritating Chip’s nose. Since those days I’ve read that plastic should never be used for a cat’s water, so we don’t. We have a large heavy cylindrical glass bowl with a flat bottom, and it works great. We have also kept a ceramic water bowl in the other end of the house in the past, but not these days, and they seem fine with that change, except that Chip is more likely to stick his head in Bonnie’s water glass now than he was when the bowl was nearby.

    One other point is that I make sure they have purified water with no chlorine or other chemicals in it – the same water I drink. I don’t know how much of a difference that makes to Chip’s kidneys, but I feel better about it.

    Thanks again for this post. I’ve lost beloved cats before because of kidney failure and I really believe water is critical.
    Steve

    Reply
    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hi Steve,

      Yes, I stopped using all plastic bowls years ago and also give my cats only filtered water. It is so handy now that we live on a well and we control what goes into the water so no chlorine and no fluoride or other chemicals! Yay!

      I have to say I am glad I added a second water bowl for them. You know how people sometimes don’t drink water until they are already too thirsty (actually dehydrated)? If you have water right there in front of you you will be more likely to drink more than if you have to get up to get it. I hope it is the same way with cats. If it is right there in front of them they will be more likely to drink it. So, I make sure to have water in the bathroom where the dry food and cat boxes are so they have to walk right by it many times per day. They also have water in the kitchen where the wet food is too. I hope they will drink when they get dry food to help wash it down since dry food is the problem.

      I am sorry you lost cats to this too.

      Thanks again,
      Jessica

      Reply

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