Did you know that about one in three cats will experience kidney problems in their lifetime? Inadequate hydration can lead to kidney trouble as well as a host of other unpleasant symptoms.
Every living creature needs water.
So why, then, is it so common for cats to refuse to drink water? Should you be worried if your cat suddenly goes on an H20 embargo and what can you do to end it? Let’s break it down.
Cats and Their Water Needs
Cats don’t actually need as much water as you might think. Their bodies actually require far less water than dogs or other animals do, and if you’re feeding your cat canned cat food she’s already getting a lot of hydration there.
In general, all animals drink when they’re thirsty, including stubborn cats. It’s only if your cat suddenly and dramatically reduces her intake of water that you should be concerned. If she won’t drink water at all and displays other worrying symptoms (tiredness, hiding behaviors, loss of appetite) it’s smart to call the vet in case there’s an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed.
Cats are Finicky About Water
What aren’t cats finicky about, honestly? Some cats are particularly fussy over the water they drink which can feel pretty frustrating. A lot of cats simply refuse to drink out of a water bowl…but why? Vets think it’s probably evolutionary: Cats who only drank running water had more assurance that the water they drank was clean and pathogen-free, and thus stayed healthier.
A lot of cats just don’t like the feeling of being hunched over a bowl. The position leaves them “vulnerable” to attack and it can actually hurt the neck of cats with arthritis or other joint pain problems. Some cats just like the taste of running water better, at the end of the day.
How to Get Your Cat to Drink
If you’ve ruled out any underlying medical issues for your cat, the first thing to try is an elevated water dish. If that doesn’t whet your cat’s whistle, try moving her water dish far away from where you feed her; cats are biologically inclined to keep their food and water sources separate so the food won’t contaminate the water.
Be sure you’re cleaning your cat’s water bowl at least once a day (stainless steel is best) and that you’re changing out the water at least once a day, too. Cats are particularly sensitive to the smell of “old” water. You also want to be consistent about how much water you put in the bowl since cats are creatures of habit. Too much or too little water can sound the alarm bells in their brains.
If all else fails, look into purchasing a fountain-style water dish for your cat. Also known as “bubblers,” these electronic gadgets keep water circulating all day long so your cat thinks she’s always drinking straight from an alpine spring (or something like that.)
Have questions about your cat’s drinking habits? Never hesitate to talk to your vet. Cats are internal creatures so sometimes their behavioral changes can actually be indicative of a medical issue.
Most of the time, though, they’re just being cats.