Fresh water is vital for cats and water fountains for cats are, on the face of it, an excellent way of supplying it (but see update in comments). Before I discuss them I’d like to have a look our cat’s need for water, generally. I am a concerned cat keeper. I think about my cat a lot and do my best for her but even with that level of concern I can sometimes forget to make sure my cat’s water is absolutely fresh.
We get side tracked or focused on other things and before we know it a day has passed and our cat’s water has almost run dry. One factor than can make us a bit forgetful about our cat’s water is that wet cat food is 82% water! This means sometimes cats don’t drink that much. A stray cat I feed never drinks water despite fresh water being put out for him and sometimes he eats dry food.
Of course drinking water is particularly important for cats fed dry food (cat food recipe).
As Dr. Jon of PetPlace.com says water is vital for survival and very important for our cat’s health. For example, urinary tract infections (URIs) can kick off from too dry a diet. Water helps to do the following:
- Digest food
- Absorb nutrients
- Flush out waste
- Control body temperature
Cats apparently can go for days without food but if they lose just 10% of their body’s water serious illness can follow as body functions shut down. At a 15% water loss a cat will die. PetPlace.com says the formula for knowing what a normal intake of water should be for a healthy cats is one ounce for one pound of body weight. Do cats drink enough to stay healthy and if not, is it because of something we are doing or failing to do?
We can make water as appealing as possible by:
- Keeping the water bowl clean. This means cleaning it daily and I change the bowl over for a fresh one every week. I also change the water daily but Dr. Jon says change it several times a day. I think that is a little over cautious, myself (but I do live in a cool climate!)
- One thing I do is to give my cat frozen fish that has been cooked gently in a microwave. Frozen fish contains quite a lot of water and it is fishy water so very appealing to my cat. Tap water in the UK has chlorine in it, which can make it taste less appealing.
- Also I occasionally give her tuna flakes from a tin (tuna in spring water) as a variant to cat food. Tuna in a can contains plenty of tuna flavored water.
- I don’t give my cat bottled or filtered water but this could also be a good alternative to encourage drinking.
- Cats naturally like running running water and I am thinking of Bengal cats or the wild cat hybrids particularly (this preference is not limited to wildcat hybrids cats though). Wild cat hybrids are more in tune with water as a source of prey having inherited this from their wild ancestor. Cats will drink from the tap (faucet in the USA) sometimes to get running water but this carries unforeseen dangers. For example, if the cat is looking up at the tap (i.e is under the tap) water can get into the cat’s lungs. This can be fatal. But there a thousands of YouTube videos of cats drinking from facets so as you can see cats love running water. Here is just one of the many amusing examples (a Sphynx cat competing with a human!):
In order to avoid the potential dangers of tap water drinking exercises, the better solution, if one has the means and inclination, is water fountains for cats. I have just this minute decided to buy one. The best known water fountain for cats is the Drinkwell, which was invented by a veterinarian, Dr. Burns (no not Dr. Drinkwell, shame that). Dr. Burns invented the Drinkwell water fountain because his cat was one of millions who liked to drink from the faucet. The doctor got tired of having to respond to his cat’s requests (see How to Speak Cat) and inadvertently leaving the water running. He invented a great product but he could have trained his cat to turn on the faucet! Or his cat could have trained him/herself, if the tap is one of those modern ones:
It is not uncommon for cats to learn to do this. They even learn to flush the toilet for that precious fresh water: Video removed..sorry
As I said, I think the more controllable but less amusing solution is the 360 Drinkwell one of the newer water fountains for cats. I am not getting commission for this. Unless someone comes to me and suggests I do. Here is the 360 Drinkwell in use:
I particularly like this model as the water does not slide down a ramp where they drink it and I think this is safer (less chance of mold etc.). Cats can’t get right under it either so it is safe from the problem mentioned above. I’m off to get one of those water fountains for cats…..