The water requirement depends on a number of factors in addition to the type of food. We explain the points you should note and suggest how to make water more palatable for reluctant drinkers.
The fluid requirement of a cat
Our feline friends’ bodies are between 50 % and 70 % water. A cat with more body fat will contain less water, and vice versa. So how much fluid should a cat drink every day?
An adult cat needs between 50 ml and 70 ml fluid per kilo body weight every day. So if your cat weighs 4 kg, for example, then she should drink between 200 ml and 280 ml per day. Your cat will not drink this amount all at once. She prefers lots of small portions. So a cat drinks ten to twelve times per day on average. Cats also get some of the fluid they need from their food, and the amount of water will naturally depend on the type of food. If your cat eats canned food, this will cover much of her water requirement. The situation is different for dry food, however. Dry food only contains around 10 % liquid, so your cat needs to absorb water by drinking.
Factors such as the ambient temperature, behaviour and activity level are also important in determining how much your cat should ideally drink.
It is also possible that your cat might drink too much liquid. This may be an indication of an underlying health problem. We recommend that you take your cat to the vet and have her checked over.
What to do about reluctant drinkers
If your cat is clearly not drinking enough, then you should offer her a good quality wet food such as Happy Cat Meat in Sauce in addition to the dry food. If necessary you can add a little warm water to the wet food to ensure that your cat drinks more liquid.
Does your cat drink too little or not at all? Here are our tips for encouraging your cat to drink more:
- Have fresh, clean water available at all times, ideally in several bowls distributed around the living space
- Cats prefer to drink their water from glass, metal or porcelain bowls
- Have you ever noticed your cat trying to drink from a water tap? If your cat prefers to drink flowing water, then try a drinking fountain.
- A little unsalted, unseasoned meat stock or a few drops of water from canned tuna in the drinking water can make it tastier.
As well as having a number of drinking vessels distributed around the space, it is also important to maintain at least half a metre between the water bowl and litter tray. It is also a good idea to keep the water bowl at least two metres away from the food bowl, otherwise some cats will regard the water as “tasteless” food and may refuse to drink it.
Well-placed: cat drinking stations
It is generally important for your cat to have a number of different opportunities for drinking around the house and garden. It is also a good idea to experiment with bowls made from glass, metal or porcelain. Have you ever caught your cat drinking from the watering can? This may mean that your feline friend prefers water that has been standing for a while. Bear these preferences in mind when setting up your cat’s drinking stations.
Water features – like drinking fountains – are also good for encouraging your cat to drink, and are a great way to keep her occupied. If you position the water stations by doors, your cat will always be reminded to drink when she moves to another room. Certain breeds with short noses, such as Persians, prefer flatter water and food bowls.
You can also pamper your cat with cat milk as a special treat. Either add it to her water or give it on its own. If you prefer to give your cat cow’s milk, make sure that it is a lactose-free milk. The lactose contained in normal cow’s milk causes diarrhoea in many cats and can result in health problems if given over long periods. Cat milk and cow’s milk cannot replace water consumption, however. Click here for more about milk for cats.
Should a cat drink more in summer?
Our house cats are quite capable of standing over water and swimming if necessary, but most cats still seem to shy away from water. The Turkish Van is one of the few breeds that will happily paddle about in water or even go for a short swim.
In summer it is especially important to provide an adequate supply of liquid since our four-legged friends struggle with the heat just like we do.
In general, the water requirement depends on a number of factors in addition to the type of food (dry or wet food, for example). The ambient temperature plays an important role because your cat’s fluid requirement is higher in summer. Cats use their saliva to regulate their temperature; they lick it around their coat which helps with cooling. Your cat also sweats through her paws, losing fluid that way. You may have even spotted slight paw prints on your laminate or tiled floor in summer. As a cat owner it is then even more important to keep an eye on your pet’s water requirement and aid her fluid consumption as much as possible.
In summer it is even more important not to leave water standing for too long to prevent unwanted germs. Meat stock and milk quickly go off at higher temperatures, even when mixed with water. The bowls must be refreshed regularly.
While cats need more liquid in the summer, they generally use much less energy when it is very hot as they get less exercise. So it is a good idea to divide the food ration into several smaller meals each day. This will make the food easier for your cat to digest.
Does your cat only eat dry food? Then try mixing it with a little wet food during high temperature periods. A wet food with a high liquid content such as our Meat in Sauce variety is ideal for encouraging your cat to drink more in summer.
But in summer the wet food goes off much faster due to the heat, so again, change the food regularly.