It’s long been said that you can lead a horse to water…but you can’t make him drink. But what if the same holds true for your cat?
“Why won’t my cat drink water?” is not the kind of question any proud pet owner wants to be asking. But all too often, this frustrated lament is heard emanating from curious cat lovers like so many desperate meows.
Of course, it’s wise to be concerned when your cat isn’t drinking much water. Water is one of a handful of nutrients essential to good feline health, and just like in people, hydration is of the utmost importance.
Water makes up somewhere around 80 percent of your cat’s lithe and athletic body, and even a slight deficiency in the amount of water your cat drinks can make a major difference in his health.
If your cat doesn’t drink enough water, he may be suffering from any of a variety of health problems. In addition to dehydration, insufficient water consumption can also lead to kidney disease, kidney stones, and lower urinary tract disease.
Recognize Warning Signs
One sign of dehydration you can look out for is a lack of elasticity in the skin. If you were to lightly pinch your cat’s skin and then pull upward gently, the skin should return to its normal position right away. In a dehydrated cat, the skin won’t retain enough elasticity to return to normal, and will remain in a “tented” form for several seconds or more. Other signs of dehydration include a lack of appetite, dry mouth, panting, sunken eyes, and a depressed mood. If you believe your cat is suffering from dehydration, it’s best to consult with your trusted veterinarian immediately.
Why Cats Go Dry
The modern house cat evolved from desert-dwelling animals that long ago learned to survive in the dry heat of the wild without requiring a lot of water. In fact, most of their water supply came from the bodies of their desert prey. Though current cats still possess the ability to concentrate their urine remarkably well, they can land in hot water health-wise when they don’t hydrate properly or efficiently. And according to many theories, they simply don’t intuitively, evolutionarily “understand” or “know” that they’re “supposed” to be drinking water every day.
In other words, you may have to start from scratch, so to speak. Thankfully, there are quite a few ways to get your cat to drink more water. Here are just a few options and ideas to help you.
Drink (And Eat) Up, Buttercup
If your cat won’t drink water, one way to change this behavior is to feed him canned food – as opposed to the more conventional (and often cheaper) dry stuff. Canned cat food contains a much higher volume of water than dry food, and chances are your cat will enjoy this quality of food more. Of course, you can always pour some water on top of your cat’s dry food to increase the moisture content – a tactic that’s especially useful for cats that prefer dry food to canned.
You could also give your feline friend the best of both worlds, and mix dry food and canned food together in a bowl. In either case, it’s best to ease your cat into the dietary change. If your suddenly upset or confused cat decides to stop eating as well as avoid water, many more things can obviously go wrong with his health – including feline fatty liver disease.
Jazz Up The Presentation
We all know that cats are fickle, moody, and easily-bored animals. So if your cat isn’t exactly excited about drinking flat, placid water out of a static, stationary, boring bowl, is it really any sort of surprise? Just like your cat will spend hours chasing after prey, toys, or even its own tail, he or she is a lot more likely to be excited about drinking “running” water. Additionally, those old evolutionary habits and hangups may come into play when your cat avoids stagnant water in a bowl. After all, swallowing stagnant water in the wild almost always means sickness or even death, and hunching over a bowl leaves one’s neck vulnerable to predator attacks.
So why not invest in a “kitty drinking fountain” – or if you know your house features high-quality, clean running water, run a faucet and let your cat drink out of that.
If you get your furry friend to change his behavior at the water bowl – or faucet – then congratulations! You have now succeeded in convincing one of the world’s most stubborn and fickle creatures to follow your advice.