Tips/Tricks To Try To Increase Your Cat’s Drinking (Water Intake)

As a general tendency, most cats are not big water drinkers.  Due to this fact, some veterinarians advocate canned foods over dry (kibble) foods to increase a cat’s water intake. 

The merits of both types of foods can be debated.  But, we feel this is not the main concern.  Rather, the major consideration or focus over the lifetime of your cat should be the following:  How can I (as a cat owner) get my cat to drink more water?

Where this becomes more and more important is when your cat develops certain medical conditions.  For example, if your cat has urinary tract issues such as crystal formation (crystalluria), urethral plugs, and/or stone (urinary calculi) formation, drinking more water can be helpful in decreasing the rate and ability for these problems to arise. In fact, if your cat drank more, maybe these problems could be avoided in the first place. 

Another big example is chronic renal (kidney) failure.  Many older cats will eventually succumb to this disease.  It typically has a gradual onset, and is a progressive condition.  But, if your cat drank more water, maybe this common older cat condition could be prevented or postponed in its rate of onset.

The key point is hydration.  The goal is the increased longevity of your pet. 

So, the concept is that the better your cat’s hydration status, the less an organ like the kidney has to “work” to do its job.  And, the resulting goal is that your cat would live longer by not having this disease process (renal failure) occur so readily.

To help in this pursuit, here are some ways to increase your cat’s water intake.  These suggestions can be used by themselves, or in combinations:

  • Whether it is dry or canned food, add water to it.  Start slowly, and proceed as your cat’s appetite permits.  If you have food available all the time, feeding your cat two meals a day before you start adding water will help it accept the water more readily.
  • Place your pet's water dish next to the food dish.  Also, some pets prefer a full, shallow dish.  Yet others seem to like reaching down into a container to drink.  You can experiment to find out what your pet likes best.
  • Add “wet” supplements/treats to your cat’s food.  Examples of these would be water packed tuna, clam juice, and low salt gravy mixes.
  • Offer bottled water.
  • Try a water fountain for your cat.  These can be purchased from many places.  The idea is that cats like to play with things like this.  And, by doing so, they are more likely to drink the water at the same time as playing.
  • Leave some water in the bottom of a sink, bathtub, or shower.  Cats seem to love playing or visiting these locations.  Therefore, they are more likely to drink once they find an available water source here.  As a further aid, putting a shallow bowl under a slowly dripping faucet will probably encourage your cat to drink more too.
  • Make ice cubes out of fish or meat broth.  You can bring the contents of a 6 ounce can of tuna or salmon, or a cup of ground meat, to a boil in 2 cups of water.  Simmer for 10 minutes, and then strain through a cheesecloth into an ice tray.  Freeze the resulting liquid.  Then, place the broth cube in your cat’s water bowl to “flavor” the water.  For some cats, this will increase their drinking of the water.

Reference:  Increasing Your Cat’s Water Intake, Jodi Westropp, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, UC Davis, 2009.

If you have any questions pertaining to this information or to any aspect of your pet’s health care, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK US.