6 Ways to Get Your Cat to Drink More Water

Photo Caption: Swaminathan via Flickr

Staying hydrated is a big part of staying healthy! Sadly, many cats are not getting enough water. One vitally important function of water for cats is in the kidneys and urinary tract. Plentiful water helps to ensure that waste is filtered out and removed from the body. Water also helps to keep cats cool when the weather gets hot. Before you give up thinking that it is impossible to get your cat to drink more water, there are 6 methods you should try.

Method #1: Switch to a wet food diet.


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The most effective way to get your cat to drink more water is to feed your cat moisture-rich food. Cats have a notoriously low thirst drive. In the wild, they get the majority of the water from eating their prey (which are roughly 75% moisture). Most dry cat foods have only about 10% moisture in them whereas canned wet foods have about 70 – 80% moisture in them. Raw diets are also a good source of moisture. It may take a while to switch a cat to a wet or raw diet from a dry diet, but it is well worth the trouble. According to Dr. Karen Becker, cats on a wet diet take in twice as much water as cats on dry diets even though cats on dry diets drink much more out of their water bowl.

If you must feed a dry diet, you can still up the moisture count. Add as much water to your cat’s dry food as the cat will allow. Start with just a little water and gradually increase it. Another option is to mix wet and dry food so that your cat will get the moisture from the wet food.

Method #2: Size does matter.

Cats can be very picky. Try water bowls of different sizes, shapes, and materials. A tall cat may not want to bend down so far to drink, a shorter cat may not be able to reach the mouth of the bowl very easily, or the feeling or smell of a certain material may be a real turn off for your cat.  You may also find that your cat will drink more water from a bowl that touches his/her whiskers less as he/she drinks from it. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep the water bowl full to the top.

Method #3: Location, Location, Location.

Drinking the Dogs' Water

Photo Credit: Jered and Alexis Hofker via Flickr

Placing several water bowls around your home will encourage  your cat to drink more water. Cats will like some locations more than others. The easier it is for your cat to get to the water bowl, the more likely it will be used. Just like humans, cats love convenience. Older cats or cats with arthritis may be reluctant to go up or down stairs to get to their water bowl.

Here are a few places you should avoid placing your cat’s water bowl:

  • Near the litter box. Some cats simply will not drink out of a water bowl that is too close to their litter box. Another problem is that litter or feces could end up in the cat’s water. Yuck!
  • Near the food dish. As with the litter box, some cats do not like their water to be close to their food dish. Pieces of food that land in the water could deter your cat from drinking more water too.
  • Near any noisy machinery that may scare your cat (like a washing machine). You don’t want your cat to relate the water bow to being traumatized.

Method #4: Keep It Fresh, Clean, and Cool

Nobody wants to drink warm, dirty water – including your cat. Freshen up the water in the bowl frequently. Use filtered or bottled water that has been cooled in the refrigerator. Tap water can have chemical tastes, like chlorine, that your cat might not like. It is much easier to get your cat to drink more water when the water tastes good! If it is a really hot day or your cat just likes very cold water, add a few ice cubes. Ice cubes not only cool the water, but they make great cat toys too.

Method #5: Adding a little flavor can help your cat drink more water!

Cat Drinking from Sink - Canon T2i

Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale

Water may be more appealing to your cat if you add just a little bit of flavoring. Try tuna juice, clam juice, or low-sodium chicken broth. You could even freeze one of those flavorings into ice cubes and make it a fun, refreshing snack! As the ice cubes melt, they will flavor the water in the bowl. Just make sure that any time you add flavor to a water bowl that there is a bowl of plain water available.

Method #6: Get in the Flow

Does your cat like to play in the running water from the faucet? Your cat would probably love a fountain. There is a large variety of pet fountains (affiliate link) on the market. They can be found online and in many pet stores. Some of these fountains are very affordable. They keep water flowing and some will even filter and cool the water too.

How do you make sure your cat is staying hydrated?

Sources & Digging Deeper

Maybe NOW more cat parents will make the switch from DRY food – Dr. Karen Becker

How to Get a Cat to Drink More Water – Drs. Foster & Smith

Does you cat drink enough water?  – PetMD

Ways to Encourage Your Cat To Drink Water – Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic

Cats Need Water – Cat Behavior Associates