Cats have a low “thirst drive”. Because wild felines get most of their water from the prey they eat, cats don’t automatically head for the water bowl when they need hydration. It can be tricky to get a cat to consume more water. Keeping cats hydrated is not only important for their overall health, it is the best way to keep kidney and urinary tract issues from rearing their ugly (and expensive) heads.
Increase Water Sources
Keep several water sources in different locations throughout the house. This allows the cat to choose where he or she will drink from. Each water bowl should be emptied, rinsed, and refilled daily to avoid stagnation and bacteria growth. The act of dumping and refilling the bowl will also pique the interest of curious felines.
Vary Water Sources
Some cats are particularly fond of drinking out of glasses and cups. Try different sizes and shapes of water bowls, from large and shallow to high and narrow. Also be aware of color; some cats are wary of dark bowls because they cannot see that the water is free of debris.
Many cats are attracted to running water. While they may gravitate to the trickle of water from the bathroom sink, it’s not very green to leave it on all day long. Many cat owners invest in a fountain-type water bowl that recirculates running water to encourage their felines to drink. Some brands also come with filters, which helps the water stay clean and palatable.
Some cats are sensitive about the flavor of the water they drink. If the water out of the tap is heavy on the chlorine, it may be worth it to run the water through a filter before filling the bowl. Some owners will also add a small amount of tuna water or salt-free chicken broth to encourage water intake.
Increase the Water in Your Cat’s Food
Sometimes, cats just won’t drink water, especially if heath issues have them feeling under the weather. It is still possible to increase the water intake of a finicky feline through their food. The easiest fix is to simply soak the dry food in water. Using the flavoring agents listed above will encourage kitty to eat the “new” food. Another option is to switch to a canned food. Canned food contains up to 80% moisture, which is much closer to the 75% present in a cat’s natural prey. The most drastic option (but one that is arguably best for the cat) is to switch to a raw food diet, which will contain high moisture foods such as chicken. This is recommended for cat who have had problems with kidneys and urinary tract disease.