Hydration is a quintessential aspect of maintaining a cat’s health and wellbeing. However, ensuring that your feline friend drinks enough water can sometimes feel like herding cats, quite literally. Let’s dive into the importance of hydration for cats, the challenges faced by cat owners, and various strategies that you can employ to ensure your cat remains well-hydrated.
The Importance of Hydration
Water is crucial for a myriad of physiological processes within a cat’s body. It aids in digestion, absorption, circulation, and excretion of waste. Furthermore, it helps in maintaining a cat’s body temperature, lubricating its joints, and supporting overall metabolic functions. A cat’s body is about 60-70% water, and even a slight decrease in this percentage can lead to dehydration, which can be detrimental. Dehydration can lead to urinary tract issues, kidney disease, and other severe health problems if left unattended.
The Challenges of Keeping Cats Hydrated
Cats are descendants of desert-dwelling animals and have evolved with a low thirst drive. Their ancestors were adept at obtaining most of their necessary moisture from the prey they consumed. This evolutionary trait carries on in domestic cats, which may not actively seek out water, especially if they are on a primarily dry food diet. Their instinctive low thirst drive can often mislead professional cat breeders or even owners into thinking their cats are getting enough moisture when they might not be.
Preference for Moving Water
Many cats have a preference for moving water over stagnant water. This preference stems from their instinctive aversion to still water, which in the wild, can often be contaminated or stale. Cats are more likely to be enticed by the sight and sound of running water, which they instinctively associate with freshness and cleanliness.
Bowl Material and Placement
Cats can be particular about the material of the bowl and its placement. Some cats might find certain materials, like plastic, unpleasant and may be more inclined to drink from ceramic or stainless steel bowls. Similarly, the placement of the water bowl can influence their willingness to drink; they may prefer quiet, low-traffic areas where they can drink without disturbances.
Cats are known for their meticulous grooming and cleanliness habits, which extend to their drinking water. They are more likely to drink water that is fresh and clean. If the water bowl becomes contaminated with food, dirt, or hair, a cat may refuse to drink from it. Moreover, the buildup of bacteria in a dirty bowl can also deter a cat from drinking and pose a health risk.
Keeping Your Cat Hydrated
Provide Fresh Water
One of the simplest yet effective ways to promote hydration is by providing fresh water. Cats are more likely to drink water that is fresh and clean. It’s advisable to change the water in your cat’s bowl at least once a day and clean the bowl regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria.
Use Water Fountains
Investing in a cat water fountain can be a game-changer. The flowing water is enticing to cats, mimicking the moving water sources they might find in nature. Water fountains also ensure the water remains fresh and oxygenated, which can encourage your cat to drink more.
Give Them Wet Cat Food
Incorporating wet cat food into your cat’s diet is an effective way to supplement their water intake. Wet cat food contains a high moisture content which can significantly contribute to keeping your cat hydrated. It’s an excellent option for cats that are particularly resistant to drinking water.
Try Ice Cubes
Some cats enjoy playing with ice cubes, and this can be an innovative way to get them to consume more water. Dropping a few ice cubes in their water bowl or on the floor for them to play with can make hydration a fun activity.
Create Multiple Drinking Stations
Cats may be more inclined to drink water if there are several bowls placed around the home. This also caters to their curiosity and love of exploring new spaces. Ensure the bowls are placed in quiet, low-traffic areas where your cat can drink peacefully.
Hydration Gel or Broth
Hydration gels or broths are another alternative to boost your cat’s moisture intake. These products can be more appetising to cats and can be a beneficial addition to your cat’s hydration regimen. They should, however, not be left out for extended periods as they can quickly spoil.
Keeping your cat hydrated requires cat owners to understand their cat’s behaviour and implement creative strategies to make water intake appealing. Maintaining your cat’s hydration can become a seamless part of your daily routine, helping you ensure that your cat doesn’t develop any of the health problems associated with insufficient water intake.