Cats, as the story goes, don’t like water. If you’ve ever tried to give a cat a bath you might have told that story! But water is critically important to a cat’s good health, just as it is to humans and other mammals. The challenge with cats is that they evolved from desert carnivores, who got all the water they needed from ingesting their prey. Cats were domesticated by humans over 4,000 years ago, but we only began feeding them convenient dry kibble a little over 100 years ago. That’s why it is so important for pet caretakers to feed their cats canned food along with dry and make sure they are drinking enough water, or only feed canned food. Cats that don’t get enough water are prone to all sorts of health issues. So how else can you make sure your feline is getting enough fluids?
Fresh water. Cats have an amazing sense of smell. They typically like the freshest water possible. Day old water sitting in a bowl? Pfft, most cats will turn up their noses at drinking such staleness! Rinse and refill your cat’s water dish daily, and thoroughly wash at least weekly, if not daily too.
Type of water bowl. Some cats prefer stainless steel, while others prefer porcelain or glass. Plastic retains odors and bacteria, so should be avoided. Some cats prefer longer shallow dishes to avoid “whisker stress” – discomfort when their sensitive whiskers hit the sides of a bowl.
Location of water. Humans tend to put a cat’s water dish right next to their food dish, which many cats find distasteful. Try setting up a watering station in a different location to see if your cat prefers it there.
Convert a crunchie addict. If a cat has been raised eating only dry food, encouraging them to eat canned food can be a challenge. Trying different flavors of canned food, offering it to them on the end of a spoon so they can lick it off, warming the canned food a tiny bit (like you would baby food) can all help encourage a cat to try it. Check with your vet first, but you may also be able to limit or restrict an adult cat’s dry food for a set period of time (like 1 or 2 days) to make them more enthusiastic about the canned offerings.
Oooh a fountain! Many cats love water flowing or dripping out of faucets. Talk about fresh! Cat fountains are a water-economical way to provide your cat with flowing or bubbling water that will encourage them to drink. Just make sure to keep the inside of the fountain very clean, and replace all the water frequently.
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