Cats are, originally, desert creatures, and do not have a big “thirst response”. They are not generally big water drinkers, having evolved to obtain most of their moisture from their prey items. Fast forward to today, where we keep our cats indoors and feed them a diet mostly of dry kibble. A lifetime of this diet can slowly dehydrate them, eventually leading to an older cat with kidney problems.
There are several things that you can do to help prevent these problems later in life. Use a cat water fountain. Cats are much more likely to drink water that is in motion – we’ve all seen cats drink from faucets. Moving water tends to feel colder, and cat drinking fountains have built in filters to help it stay cleaner than still, stagnant water. It’s a great time to invest in one: our Cat-it Fresh & Clear Drinking Fountain is on sale this month! Check it out here.
Place several water dishes around your house. Cats are more likely to drink when there are multiple sources. Wider water dishes can get your cat to drink more, as they hate to have their whiskers touching anything, even the side of their dishes.
Add water, or something tasty like low sodium chicken or beef broth, to their dry kibble. Allow it to sit for a few minutes for it to soften. The bowl should be picked up after a few hours to prevent the food from drying out and going bad. This is a good way to get fussier cats to eat, as it adds some flavor and the moisture releases the aroma of the food.
Better yet, switch them to canned food, as this contains higher levels of moisture. There is an old wives tale that can food is bad for your cat’s teeth. Your cat’s teeth are actually sharp and angled, having evolved to shear meat, not flat to grind dry kibble. In fact, when cats eat dry food, they are actually breaking up the kibble with the roof of their mouth.
By far the best diet for your cat and hydration is raw food. This food is the closest thing to their natural diet. It has not been altered with heat or friction, which preserves the innate vitamins and minerals, along with essential amino acids and enzymes (processed kibbles have these added back to the food after cooking them out.)
Cats are about 60% water, and they must have continual hydration to maintain this level. Symptoms of dehydration in cats are lethargy, dry gums and eyes, and skin that stays peaked when you lift a fold. Severe dehydration is a matter for your vet to address, as intravenous fluids may be needed. Giving fluids in a more natural way can help keep your cat well hydrated and out of the vet’s office. Try offering water in a variety of ways; your cat will definitely let you know what they like!