Watering The Cat!

How to water your cat…

Pssst…want a chance to save hundreds of dollars in vet bills for your cat? Want your cat to live a longer, healthier life? There’s an inexpensive and simple trick to it – get her to drink more water.

Actually, it may be cheap, but it won’t likely be easy. Many cats have a love-hate relationship with water. In a bathtub, the stuff is terrifying. It is, however, to be admired and swatted at for hours if found dripping from a faucet. In a bowl, water appears to be plain boring and I’ve gone weeks without actually seeing our clinic cat drink.

With its origins in the deserts of the Middle East, the domestic cat is genetically programmed to handle water deprivation. The cat’s kidneys are highly adapted to keep water in the body and it’s a task that seems to take a toll down the road. Kidney failure is really common in older kitties. If your cat suddenly starts hanging around the water bowl and the litter box is flooded, it’s time for a visit to your veterinarian.

In young cats – especially males – poor fluid intake can be a major factor in causing life-threatening urinary tract blockages. It can also contribute to a painful bladder condition in both sexes.
So, I’m just suggesting that you might try to save the cost of those vet bills, by taking some heat off of the urinary system. I ranted not so long ago in this space about the benefits of feeding canned diets to kitties. Suffice to repeat that dry food contains about 10 per cent moisture, whereas canned is more like 78 per cent, which is much closer to the composition of a mouse or bird, the cat’s natural diet. Considering how hard it can be to get a cat to drink more, the switch to moist foods may provide a better pipeline for the water.

In addition to the switch to canned food, feline medicine specialists recommend using flavoured waters to entice kitty. Tuna water seems to be the favourite. First use up the water the tuna comes in, then make more. Just put a few cups of fresh tap water over the remaining tuna meat, mash it around and let it sit for a few minutes. Low sodium chicken broth and clam juice can also be used. Any of these liquids can be frozen in cubes and defrosted as needed.

Doubtless some of you have cats that love to drink from a running tap. For these guys, a recirculating water fountain, specifically designed for kitties, can encourage drinking.

What about milk? It’s bad for cats right? Well, not necessarily. Lots of cats can’t digest lactose, so milk gives them the trots. Luckily, there are many lactose-free products available, even some made specifically for cats. Still, milk should only be offered sparingly, if at all, because it can be high in calories. Use low fat versions or water it down. If your kitty has any health issues, please check with your veterinarian before adding anything to her diet.

Some links of interest:

Transitioning to moist foods
Urinary tract diseases of the cat

Dr. Fiona Gilchrist
Hillcrest Animal Hospital
July 2012