Hydration is essential to your cat’s health and well being. Water intake helps the kidneys flush out toxins, prevents urinary problems, and keeps other organs functioning properly. Read these tips on how to keep your cat hydrated, since dehydration is very dangerous and can lead to death.
How much water your cat needs depends on their weight, the time of year, and activity level. On average a cat should consume 60ml of water daily, for every kilogram of weight.
Cats who eat only dry food will need to consume more water than cats who also eat canned food. Dry food contains about 10% moisture, while canned food contains approximately 70-80% (My Cat Won’t Eat Wet Food!) . Note that regardless of the quality of your kibble, the moisture content remains the same. So while good quality kibble is imperative for many other health reasons, it does not have adequate amounts of moisture for cats. If you choose not to feed your cat canned food you have to make sure they are getting sufficient moisture elsewhere. Most cats are not huge drinkers so you may need to get creative.
There are several ways to tell if your cat is dehydrated. You can do the scruff test, where you gently pinch the skin between the shoulder blades and lift it. If the skin returns to its’ normal state instantly, your cat is hydrated. If the skin remains standing, your cat needs fluids. Scaly skin, a dull and dry coat, pale gums, and lethargy also suggest dehydration.
A Few Basic Tips About Cat Water
Most cats prefer cold water, but not necessarily from the fridge. It also needs to be clean, so you may have to change it a couple of times a day. Make sure the dishes you use are rinsed thoroughly if you have washed them with soap. Cats are extremely sensitive to any fragrant or chemical substances. A good idea is to keep the food and water dishes apart. To cats, food is a potential water contaminant, and the two should not be in the same vicinity.
Water Source and Dishes
The water in our taps is a good, reliable, and economical choice. Although you can use filtered water, or bottled water, neither is necessary.
Some cats love tap water straight from the tap. They want their water cold and running. Of course this only works if you are comfortable with your cat sitting on, or even in, the sink. If that is not something you want to encourage, and your cat insists his water needs to be moving, you can invest in a cat fountain. The idea behind these ingenious gadgets is that the water is filtered, making it clean, cool, and of course moving.
Some cats love to drink out of glasses. Ideally you want one that is short and heavy, with a wide mouth and base. Something they can’t tip over. Lots of cats drink out of glasses. Some dip their paw in and then lick the water off their paw.
If your cat isn’t fussy use a regular water dish but stick with stainless steel, ceramic, or glass as opposed to plastic. With cats it’s a good idea to have several water dishes situated throughout your house. This is more work for you, but it encourages your cat to drink regularly. You can vary the size, shape, and colour but make sure the water is clean.
Water with Food
For additional moisture you can add water to canned food. In this case you don’t want to use cold water. Cold “food” is spoiled food to cats. Use room temperature water and even heated water, especially if you are adding it to canned food that has been stored in the fridge. It is common practice to use hot water as a means of “heating” up canned food. The heat is distributed evenly so it’s safe, and the hot water brings out the aroma of the food. You can also add a low sodium chicken or vegetable broth to their canned food, or put a few tablespoons in a separate dish.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the most common ailments of older cats. Older cats, and especially those with CKD, may require subcutaneous fluids on a regular basis. Don’t let this scare you. A vet can show you how to “Sub Q” your cat. It is very easy to do, and it will help your cat remain comfortable, and eating. A dehydrated cat becomes nauseous and stops eating, which in turn dehydrates him even more.
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