Ever heard that saying,
“you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink?”
Well, let me tell ya, horses are easy compared to cats!
Cats are notorious for their low thirst drive. For whatever reason, they just don’t dig water.This is a serious concern for us concerned cat parents, especially if your little camel wannabe has the added complication of chronic kidney disease. But even if they don’t, a dehydrated cat is at a much greater risk of serious health issues, such as a clogged urethra, lower urinary tract disease and digestive issues.
So, let’s take a look at 5 ways you can trick … ahem I mean convince … your cat to drink more water.
1. HIDE WATER IN THEIR FOOD!
No, I’m not talking about fish-shaped water balloons (although if you find those I’d love to hear from you!) I’m talking about increasing your cat’s wet food intake.
The great thing about switching your cat over to eating more wet food is that they won’t even think of their increased water uptake as “drinking”.
If your cat is especially fond of dried food though, one thing you can experiment with is adding a little bit of broth. If you’re lucky, they’ll smell the added meaty aroma and decide you’re giving them a treat!
2. TRICK THEM INTO THINKING WATER IS FUN
Cats are a bit like toddlers. Half the battle in getting a cat to do anything lies in convincing them it’s fun.
Try putting an ice cube in their water bowl. Not only will this make the water taste fresher to your water-phobic little gourmand, they may also decide to play with the fascinating, shiny floating thing, accidentally grabbing a few mouthfuls of water in the process.
Another neat trick is to freeze broth, tuna or clam juice and use that instead of plain water. They may be drawn to that delicious fishy aroma. (Pro tip: don’t accidentally put a clam juice ice cube in your own drink. They taste incredibly bad in a gin and tonic.)
3. WORK WITH THEIR DRINKING INSTINCTS
Many cats are very suspicious of water, especially if it is still. Don’t even get me started on stale water. Even a trace of murkiness and they’ll high tail it out of there.
It’s therefore really important to keep all water bowls clean, refilling them regularly.
Turning the faucet on can work wonders. Many cats prefer running water. To their suspicious catty brains this is sure evidence the water isn’t stagnant.
I had great success installing touch faucets (which auto shut off after a few minutes). It’s amazing how quickly my bengal horde learned to grab a drink at their own leisure.
4. PUT OUT A FEW DRINKING BOWLS
Cats are fussy and cautious creatures. You may have noticed that when a cat drinks, they’re particularly watchful. Who knows, perhaps this is a throwback to when their big cat ancestors grabbed a drink at the local watering hole.
To deal with their natural hydration flightiness, it can be really helpful to put bowls down in several locations throughout your house. That way, they can slink off to drink in privacy when no one is looking.
5. IF ALL ELSE FAILS, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEIR ULTIMATE WEAKNESS!
I haven’t tried this one yet, but I’ve heard from fellow feline fanatics that it gets fantastic results with stubborn and hydration-resistant cats. Cat owners are resorting to … wait for it… CATNIP TEA!
Catnip is close to irresistible for most cats, so I guess it makes sense that a liquid infusion of their vice of choice would be pretty darn effective.
Getting your cat to drink make take some creativity. You may need to draw from psychology, reverse-psychology, clam-flavored ice water and even out-and-out trickery to lead a cat to water and make it drink. Just remember, you’re doing it for their own good!
Some cats prefer metal bowls, some ceramic bowls and some prefer moving water as in a fountain. So I use all of them. I also add filtered water to their canned food. And when the can is empty I put water in it and swish it around to get the remains of the food and they also like drinking that after they eat their wet food.
My ragdoll Tiger Lily is now 19 1/2 yrs old. She was diagnosed with CKD 5 yrs ago. After researching kidney disease, I took her off of kibble & switched to wet food only. I feed her renal care rx food. She does get tired of it, though, so I add some low sodium chicken broth or the juice from water packed tuna for flavor & hydration. After her bloodwork 6 mos. ago, her numbers were good. My vet told me to KEEP on doing what I’m doing! Thank you for your blog post, Anuj…I NEVER thought of clam juice!
You can soak their kibble in water — it gives the kibble a more meaty texture, seems to release the aromas from the dry stuff and of course, gives them more moisture.