There is probably no such thing as a cat who greedily gobbles up its water bowl out of sheer thirst: The velvet paws are naturally very lazy to drink. However, if your house tiger shows no signs of thirst at all and persistently ignores its drinking vessel, you should investigate the reason. If the animal is otherwise healthy, you can use various tricks to encourage it to drink. We'll show you how.
Every cat's drinking behavior is as different as their eating habits. In contrast to dogs, whose drinking preferences can usually be seen and heard, cats are reluctant to be observed while they are eating and drinking and they often withdraw. Especially if you have several cats or cats running freely, it is difficult to determine insufficient fluid intake simply from the amount of water in the bowl. If the cat drinks too little, it can very quickly lead to dehydration and resulting organ damage.
How much does my cat need to drink?
As a rule of thumb, a cat needs around 50-55 ml of water for every kilogram of body weight. The ratio does not increase proportionally, however, because larger cats need less water in percentage terms. A cat's fluid needs depend on a number of factors, most notably:
Their weight: A 2 kilogram cat needs at least 110-120 ml of water a day, a three times as heavy a cat should drink around 300 ml of liquid daily.
Their level of activity: Sportily active animals, but also those who are pregnant and lactating, have a higher need for water.
the type of food: the greater the moisture content in the food, the less water the cat needs. Wet food has a clear advantage here. If your cat is getting dry food, you should take special care that it drinks enough.
the ambient temperature: Above 20 degrees, cats need more water.
Cat drinks too little: external signs
If the cat is dehydrated, sunken eyes and dry gums are typical.
Sluggishness, lack of appetite or general lack of drive can also testify to dehydration, as can intensely smelling - i.e. highly concentrated - urine or a few liquid residues in the litter box. With a "skin fold test" you can determine relatively easily whether your cat is dehydrated. To do this, you carefully grasp a fold of skin in the shoulder or neck area with your thumb and index finger and press it together for about 30 seconds. If the skin folds straight back to the starting position after letting go, everything is fine. If it freezes up like a tent or only retreats with a delay, your cat is probably suffering from a lack of fluids. In malnourished or overweight cats, the so-called turgor skin test is unfortunately more difficult.
Too little thirst: rule out illness
So before you resort to aids to encourage your cat to drink, you have to rule out a disease-related reason for abstaining from drinking. The reduced water intake can be a sign of pain or illnesses that could also be life-threatening under certain circumstances. These include inflammation of the tonsils, esophagus, stomach lining or pancreas, cat flu and feline disease, fatty liver, blood poisoning or ascites. Damage to the areas of the brain that control thirst and hunger could also be a cause of decreased thirst. This phenomenon can be observed, among other things, in the elderly of cats - similar to what occurs in older people.
Cat does not want to drink: dangers of dehydration
If the cat takes in too little fluid over a long period of time, the kidneys begin to slowly - and barely noticeable - deterioration. Unfortunately, this is only really visible when a large part of the organ has been irreversibly damaged. Urinary stones or urine gravel are a possible consequence, but also chronic kidney failure, which cannot be cured. Symptoms of renal insufficiency are unwillingness to eat, fatigue, vomiting, excessive drinking and increased urination.
Encouraging cats to drink: 15 tips
If a disease-related cause of the changed drinking behavior of your cat is excluded, you can use a variety of tricks to encourage your cat to drink. These range from the type of bowl and its location to disruptive factors that prevent the cat from drinking.
Tip # 1: the right bowl
Avoid plastic containers, which can give off odors and toxins over time. Instead, rely on stainless steel, ceramic or glass. Many cats are also bothered by bowls that are too small and their whiskers constantly bump against the edge. This also happens if the bowl is insufficiently filled.
Tip no. 2: The right location
Most cats do not like to drink where they eat because they prefer a location without any foreign smells. So do not place the water bowl next to the food bowl - and also not near the litter box. Frequently frequented places such as the entrance area of the apartment or annoying noises from the washing machine or dishwasher can also prevent the cat from drinking.
The bowl of water must not be in the sun - this promotes germ formation.
Tip # 3: Several water points
Since many cats hardly ever feel thirsty and simply forget to drink, they should be reminded as often as possible. This works best where your cat likes to be - on the windowsill, the bookshelf or the desk. Place multiple sources of water in different places so that your cat has them around him at all times. Your persistence is rewarded: If the animal stumbles over it all the time, it will eventually become a habit of sipping it.
Tip # 4: The right water
Stale water rarely finds grateful buyers among cats. Most prefer fresh. Only when the chlorine content is increased is there a high risk that the cat will spurn the fresh water. In that case, you should let the bowl stand for about two to three hours after filling so that the chlorine dissipates. However, it can still happen that the cat does not accept the water due to the chlorine residue. She still recognizes the smell of chlorine, no matter how small the amount. The real gourmets will only accept still bottled water. Even if it sounds like Etepetete - it is worth a try if it provides your darling with enough fluids, right?
Tip no. 5: hot or cold drinkers?
The temperature also often plays a role: there are cats who only consume water at the right temperature, others prefer cold water - no different from people who have very different drinking habits. Try to find out what your cat's preferences are.
Tip no. 6: water with pep
Whether water with a high chlorine content or just too boring in taste for your discerning cat: a light flavoring can work wonders. A few drops of tuna oil, chicken broth or bone stock are often enough to get the cat excited about their new "drink".
Tip # 7: running water
Given a choice, most cats instinctively choose flowing rather than stagnant water. This is because the likelihood of pollution is generally higher in standing water. Accessory manufacturers have long since recognized this and offer suitable cat fountains. If you decide to use such a cat drinker, you should pay attention to quality and hygiene. Drinking fountains made of ceramic or other sustainable materials are recommended instead of the cheap ones made of plastic. The water should also be renewed daily and the fountain cleaned regularly with hot water.
Tip no. 8: combine dry food with wet food
As practical as dry food is, it contains very little moisture, an average of 10%. If a four kilogram cat receives 50 grams of dry food a day, it will only consume five milliliters of liquid. If it is fed with wet food, the amount of water absorbed increases with the intended 250 grams of wet food with the average moisture from 80% to 200 milliliters. This means that the cat's daily water requirement is already covered with wet food. Both types of food - wet and dry - can be wonderfully combined: In this way, you ensure variety in both taste and consistency in the cat bowl and ensure that your cat absorbs enough moisture. You can mix the dry food ration with the pouch contents or offer both meals separately.
Tip no. 9: feed with a shot
Of course, this tip does not mean the addition of alcohol, which is intended to lull the cat's taste buds. Rather, it's about cat food with an extra dash of water. This simple trick of increasing your cat's hydration works particularly well with wet food, where the extra moisture is not even noticeable. Dry food, on the other hand, can swell up quickly, which means that cats, used to dry kibble, abandon the meal due to the changed consistency.
Tip # 10: No detergent
Since the cats are very sensitive to smells and do not accept foreign smells in either their food or drinking bowl, you should avoid using detergent when cleaning the containers. Even the smallest residues of detergents are perceived very intensively by the house tigers.
In the best case scenario, you only clean the vessels with hot water and a clean sponge.
Tip # 11: Different water containers
While humans rely conservatively on conventional cat bowls, the animals themselves remain much more relaxed and flexible: They drink from the strangest vessels. Bucket, flower vase, watering can, aquarium - cats' tastes are very different. Be creative and use different water containers: high and flat, wide and narrow. Just pay attention to the water quality: Planter coasters could contain dangerous fertilizer residues and tree resins and other toxic substances could collect in fillable Christmas tree stands. Paddling pools with swimming toys are also popular on warmer days: it can also be just a bucket or a laundry bowl.
Tip # 12: turn on the tap
Whenever your velvet paw is in the kitchen or bathroom, let them watch as they fill the water bowl. This is how you show her that the water is fresh. The sound of slowly flowing water also awakens the primal instincts and motivates the cat to drink.
Tip No. 13: ice cream, ice cream, baby ...
Cats like ice cream, most of them anyway. You play hockey with the ice cubes, then lick your paws and thus absorb the liquid in a detour. Only the tough ones lick the ice cream directly. Especially in summer, the occupation with the ice is not only a fun game with positive side effects on the water balance, but also a cooling off. And when you freeze meat broth as ice cubes, the cooling is delicious too!
Tip no. 14: Can there be anything else?
It doesn't always have to be water or the same food. Pamper your velvet paw with a taste explosion from six different grain-free wet food creations, garnished with a salt-free meat broth. You can easily make the latter yourself by simply boiling meat bones and giving the cat the cooled liquid to drink. Hardly any cat remains indifferent to this culinary temptation.
Tip # 15: Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic supplements can help increase your cat's thirst. Well-tried agents are Schüssler salts such as simple table salt or silica (Silicea). Get in touch with a non-medical practitioner or a veterinarian with homeopathy experience to determine the right mineral salt preparation.
Cats are naturally lazy to drink and their drinking behavior is difficult to observe. If illness-related causes of persistent abstinence from water are ruled out, there are a variety of aids that can encourage your cat to drink. Sometimes creativity and consistency are required, sometimes rethinking is necessary. The fact is that you can change the drinking habits of your four-legged friend with a few simple methods. A toast to the water consumption in your cat household!