Increasing Water Consumption In Cats

There are many medical conditions in which I recommend more water consumption as a part of the treatment protocol.  Unfortunately, that is easier said than done with cats.  How do you encourage a cat to drink more?  Here are my suggestions:

1)  Feed canned food instead of dry.  Once the cat is eating the canned food well, mix more water into the food to make a slurry.  Some cats will only eat dry food.  For these stubborn patients see my next post which covers transitioning cats from dry to canned food.
2)  Place the water bowl in a safe area for the cat with at least two routes of escape.  Some cats refuse to drink because they are afraid of being caught at the bowl by a dog or other more dominant family cat.
3)  Use a ceramic bowl to prevent electrical shocks.  This is a problem in arid environments.  I had one patient that refused to drink because he was shocked every time the metal I.D. tag on his collar touched his metal bowl.
4)  Try a table fountain.  Many cats love running water.  A small table fountain will provide running water without increasing your water bill.  Change the water frequently to keep it fresh.
5)  Some cats will drink water flavored with clam juice, chicken broth or tuna juice.  Before offering any of these, speak to your veterinarian to make sure an increase in salt will not adversely affect your pet.  Also, tuna contains thiaminase.  If feed in large quantities, it may cause thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency leading to neurologic disease.  To prevent this, I recommend alternating between the three. 
6)  Clam juice, chicken broth and tuna juice may also be frozen into ice cubes for cats who prefer their treats cold.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.