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How to Convince Your Cat to Use a Water Bowl (And Drink More Water)

24 Jun 2022.


Sometimes it can seem like felines are intent on drinking from everywhere but their water bowls. Perhaps your cat prefers following you to the bathroom to drink from the tap, or sipping from your glass rather than drinking from their own designated water source! Does your cat refuse to drink from a water bowl? Below, Cat in a Flat explains the reasons why your cat won’t drink from a water bowl and what you can do to keep your kitty hydrated.

Why does my cat need to drink water? 

The most obvious answer for why your cat needs to drink water is to prevent dehydration. However, there are many other important reasons why drinking enough water is essential for your kitty: 

  • Water helps flush toxins from your cat’s kidneys.
  • Water decreases the chances of kidney and bladder stones. 
  • Water decreases the chances of your cat becoming sick. 
  • Water helps maintain your cat’s body temperature.
  • Water helps with circulation and digestion. 
  • Water keeps your kitty hydrated and healthy so they can live their best cat lives! 

How much water does my cat need a day? 

Just like humans, it’s important for our fur friends to stay well hydrated. While your kitty might not feel the same drive to drink water as you do, their body is still 70% water, and they can become dehydrated. 

If you feed your cat only dry kibble, most likely he will need more supplemental water sources. Wet food is a great source of hydration for felines. Therefore, it’s important to balance your kitty’s diet with a mix of wet and dry foods.

Typically, felines need to drink 3.5-4.5 ounces (roughly ½ a cup) of water per 5 pounds of weight. For example, if Mr Whiskers weighs 10 pounds, he should be drinking between 7-9 ounces (or 1 cup) of water every day. 

How to know your cat is drinking enough water

It’s almost impossible to accurately monitor how much your kitty is drinking every day. So how do you know if your fur friend is drinking enough water? One way is to take note of how often your cat visits their water bowl. If you notice that you rarely see Mr Whiskers at his bowl throughout the day, it could be a sign he’s not drinking enough. 

Keep an eye out for signs of dehydration too. Symptoms can include dry gums, listlessness, loss of appetite and skin tenting (where if you lift the skin between their shoulder blades it takes a few seconds for it to lie flat again). 

On the other hand, if your kitty is drinking more water than usual this could also be signs of a sick or injured cat. In either case, take your cat to the vet immediately. 

cat drinking from glass

Reasons why your cat won’t drink from a bowl

Cat behavior can be a mystery to us humans sometimes. However, it’s still possible to make educated guesses about why they do the things they do. Here are a few reasons why your kitty might be avoiding his water bowl. 

  • Wrong location. If your cat ignores his water bowl, it could mean it needs to be moved to a new location. Some kitties are finicky about having water bowls too close to their food or litter tray. This is because our furry friends are biologically programmed to avoid water that could potentially become contaminated. 
  • Stagnant water. In the wild, Mr Whiskers would seek out moving water as a source of hydration. Therefore, your cat could simply be suspicious of the still water in his bowl. 
  • Wrong bowl. Be mindful of the material your cat’s water bowls are made from. For example, plastic bowls may taint the water and leave an unpleasant flavor behind.
  • Wrong size. Your cat’s water bowl might be too small. Feline whiskers are sensitive, and most kitties don’t like when their whiskers touch the edges of their water bowls.

Tips to get your cat to drink more water

If your cat refuses to drink from his water bowl, don’t despair. Here are a few tips to get your kitty to drink more water. 

  • Add some flavor. Dribble some excess liquid from a can of tuna into a water-filled ice cube tray. Freeze it, then put a few of these fishy ice cubes in your cat’s water bowl. 
  • Try a new spot. Try placing your cat’s water bowls in different parts of the house (but never near their food or litter box). Take note of which ones your kitty drinks from more—this will tell you where they like their water bowls. 
  • Have a variety. Every feline is different, so you may have to experiment a little to find out what type of water bowl your cat likes. Try out metal, ceramic, and glass to see what your fur friend prefers. If you opt for a cat water fountain, keep one or two bowls around too so your kitty has multiple water options. Make sure all your cat’s water bowls are wide enough so that his whiskers don’t touch the sides when he drinks. 
  • Keep them clean. Your cat’s water bowls should be cleaned and filled with fresh water every day. Mr Whiskers’ fountain should be cleaned and refilled at least once a week. When hiring a cat sitter, make sure you brief them on how often your cat’s water bowls need to be washed and filled.
  • Add water to wet food. If wet food is already a part of your fur friend’s diet, then you’re in luck. This is a great source of hydration for felines! Give your kitty a hydration boost by adding a little extra water to their wet food every day.

Looking for more ways to keep your kitty happy and healthy? Check out our blog posts with safety tips for first-time cat parents and creative ways to keep your kitty cool this summer

  • #catcare
  • #cathealth
  • #catinaflat
  • #pet care
  • Cat Care
  • cat water bowl
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