Does your cat's water bowl remain untouched, day after day? Do you seldom catch them drinking water?
Most cats do not drink enough water to stay adequately hydrated. As carnivores, they prefer to take in moisture through their food. If your cat eats a primarily dry kibble diet, they are especially prone to getting dehydrated.
Learn the signs of dehydration in cats, and how you can increase your cat's water intake to keep them healthy.
Low water intake doesn't always mean your cat is dehydrated, though most cats can still benefit from more moisture. Check for these signs to see if your cat is in immediate need of hydration:
Your cat may avoid drinking water if they're not pleased with their water source. Some cats won't drink tap water, but will sip on bottled or filtered water.
Your cat may avoid drinking from their bowl because of a long-held instinct to avoid standing water. In the wild, stagnant water is more likely to harbor harmful pathogens. See if your cat is attracted to flowing water sources, like your sink faucet or a pet water fountain.
Water fountains for your cat
Canned cat food is typically 75-80% moisture, so switching your cat from kibble will make a big difference in keeping them hydrated.
You can also make "beverages" for your cat that you can pour over their food or offer between meals. Tinned tuna juice, goat's milk, clam juice, and low-sodium broth can all be used to help your cat fight dehydration. You can mix any of them with water, use them to make flavored ice cubes, or serve them as-is. Make sure the broth does not contain onions or garlic, which are both toxic to cats.
You can usually resolve mild dehydration at home by encouraging your cat to drink water.
Sometimes, though, dehydration is a medical emergency. Dehydration can lead to organ failure, seizures, and in the worst cases, death.
If your cat has been losing fluids through vomiting or diarrhea and they're unable to hold down liquids, or if they seem to be distressed, seek urgent veterinary care through your regular veterinarian or an emergency vet clinic.