Our pets communicate in many significant ways, and it’s our task to interpret those purrs and paws to provide love, security, and the nutritional needs of our feline companions.
Most cats aren’t known for drinking a lot. A cat consumes moderate amounts of water, much less than a dog, and an average 10-pound cat needs about 7 to 9 ounces of water daily; some of that can come from their wet food.
It's important to notice a cat’s behavior when water consumption changes. It can signal severe health crises like kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism. Suffering from a urinary tract infection, cats may also change their routine water consumption.
Here are the telltale signs.
Importance of Drinking Water for Your Cat
A healthy cat needs a balanced diet and water to support a healthy cell structure and body functions.
Keep your cat hydrated
All cats need access to fresh water. Every cat has its own normal and how often they visit the water dish. As a rule of thumb, a cat drinks 4 ounces of liquid daily for every 5 pounds of body weight.
Healthiness and well-being of your cat
Water is instrumental in developing a healthy cat and its immune response. Older cats, cats on a dry cat food diet, or cats with health issues may require more or less water.
An adult cat is made up of 60 to 70% water. When a cat doesn’t consume enough water or excretes too much water, it becomes dehydrated, which can lead to other health concerns.
Your veterinarian is an excellent resource for finding that optimal balance between quality food and your cat drinking enough water.
Ideal Water Intake for Your Cat
Did you know that our domesticated cat’s cousin, the legendary cheetah, only needs water every 3 to 4 days? A cheetah eats fresh meat and gets enough moisture from its hunting diet. A domestic cat needs our help to meet those water intake needs by providing a nutritionally balanced diet from wet or dry kibble and clean water.
Factors that affect the water intake of your cat
One of the best ways to ensure your cat's water intake is sufficient is to monitor your cat’s habits.
A healthy cat’s water requirements can be impacted by:
- A wet food diet so the cat is drinking less
- Dry food may mean the cat is drinking a lot
- Life stage and overall health
- Knowing how much water your cat needs
- Diseases known to change water needs include kidney and liver disease, diabetes, UTIs, and hyperthyroidism
- Every cat's unique needs
- Hot weather influences a cat’s need for water
Tracking the amount of water your cat is consuming
A great way to measure your cat’s water habit is by using a measuring cup to fill their water bowl. Cats, however, may be drinking from a dripping tap since they prefer fresh water. If you use an automated watering dish, monitor the water level accurately.
The World Animal Foundation believes that an automatic litter box can help cats and pet owners by removing waste efficiently. Our felines are finicky about using a clean litter box device, just as they’re fussy about what they consume.
Reasons Behind Excessive Water Intake by Your Cat
Dehydration can lead to an underlying problem for cats. Significant loss of fluids from health-related issues is preventable if we know our felines.
- Decreased appetite
- Dry mucous membranes
- Sunken eye sockets (severe)
Kidneys are vital organs, and when they become damaged, your cat will experience significant signs like frequent urination and increased thirst. Chronic kidney disease in cats occurs in 1 to 3% of cats. Liver and kidney disease can be a sign of cancer, tumors, other diseases, or part of our beloved cats aging. These kidney conditions can be chronic or acute.
Acute kidney failure is a sudden onset of an infection or from digesting a harmful substance. Chronic kidney failure takes time to develop from infections or tumors.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Male cats are more likely to develop urinary tract infections, but it can also affect your female kitty. Your cat may suddenly drink more water and urinate more frequently or be unable to urinate as usual. Knowing our feline companions and their habits is very helpful in establishing the most common causes.
A trip to the vet clinic is essential when you notice your cat developing unusual habits like:
- Avoids urinating inside the litter box
- Notice blood in the urine (choose cat litter that has indicating colors as a tool)
- Has difficulty passing urine
- Cries when urinating
- Compulsively licks the urinary opening
Your vet will treat the condition’s cause with antibiotics or by removing an obstruction. A different diet, like canned food, may alleviate the problem in some cases. Untreated UTIs can lead to kidney failure or a ruptured bladder. Before using home remedies, please consult your vet for the right treatment.
Diabetes is not uncommon in cats. An estimated 0.5% of cats develop diabetes mellitus, where the cats can’t produce sufficient insulin. Obese cats and poor-quality food increase the risk of diabetes. Senior cats also have a higher risk, and a regular vet visit helps establish parameters and protect your cat.
Insulin is essential for a healthy body response and helps blood sugar move through a cat’s liver, muscle, and fat and create energy. If there’s a malfunction, the insulin builds up and has nowhere to go but out through the urine, taking water out. Your cat will compensate for this water loss by having an increased thirst.
Diabetes in cats is treated successfully with insulin injections or tablets.
Hypothyroidism and liver-related illnesses
As many as 11% of our senior cats develop hyperthyroidism. A thyroid gland is essential for growth, metabolism, and brain function. In hyperthyroidism, the gland produces an abundance of thyroid hormone and impacts the metabolic rate, which affects the brain and increases thirst. The hormone also affects the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), increasing water output and thirst.
Liver disease can affect our cats through a virus, bacteria, fungus, or parasite and inflammatory or cancerous influences.
Encouraging Your Cat to Drink More Water
Cats are unique creatures with unique needs. Our role in promoting quality lives is to balance proper nutritional needs and encourage them to drink water when the situation warrants it.
Here are some helpful tips your cat will appreciate:
- Provide clean water daily
- Have more than one source of fresh water throughout the house
- Tempt them with water fountains
- Consider wet food to help supplement their fluid intake
- Add flavored water (vet-sanctioned broth)
- Keep watering dish and litter box separate
- Switch the type of bowl material (avoid plastic): glass, porcelain, stainless
Other factors can affect the normal thirst and urination cycle of a cat. Working with your veterinarian is the best solution, but being cognizant of your kitty’s water consumption and urination habits is peace of mind and promotes cat vitality.
Medications like steroids, phenobarbitals, and diuretics will play a role in a cat’s water and urination needs. If a cat is diagnosed with hypercalcemia, it produces too much calcium, and the ADH interrupts the kidney function, causing it to urinate and replenish with more water.
Another lesser-known condition is pyometra, which is an infection of the uterus for unspayed cats.
Cancer in felines also influences the delicate balance of too much water and not enough.
Conclusion of Cat Drinking More Water
Cats that eat wet food may be drinking a lot less than cats raised on dry food. Look for clues like increased appetite, trouble urinating, increased thirst, or changes in a cat's body, like weight loss or gain, as an underlying cause or other signs of health.
You know your cat best, but when in doubt, have a professional check it out.
This article is provided by World Animal Foundation.