For starters, how large is your cat? What is his environment like as far as climate and season? What type of activity level does he maintain? What is his diet like? Does he eat only dry, only wet or a combination of both wet and dry food?
Hydration is vital for cats and making sure they get enough water can be difficult and knowing how much is enough can be somewhat difficult as well.
To simplify what’s enough, the best school of thought is this: water and food intake should be about 2.5:1.
In other words, if they eat 4 ounces of food per day, then they need to drink about 10 ounces of water.
Of course, in order to meet that requirement, if your cat only eats dry food, he’ll need to drink more water than those cats who have a combination daily diet of both dry and wet food. The reason for this is that obviously, more water is contained in canned, wet food than is found in dry food (about 5-10% in dry and 80% in wet.)
On that note, just a little tip: Because most cats aren’t the best water-drinkers, feeding a little wet food along with the dry (in a separate bowl) at least once a day is recommended (adjust dry food amounts to control weight) to aid in water consumption.
So how do you make sure your cat is getting enough water and how do you know if he isn’t?
Check for the following physical signs that your cat is properly hydrated:
Coat should be shiny – without signs of flaking.
Skin should spring back when gently pulled at the scruff of the neck.
Is your cat exhibiting his normal activity level? Lethargy can be a sign of dehydration.
Is he urinating 2-3 times daily?
How can you get your cat to drink more water?
Well, the first thing every pet owner must do is always provide their cat (or dog) with the cleanest, freshest supply of water possible. This is especially true when it comes to cats because just like human beings, they won’t drink dirty, rancid, bacteria laden water. And really, who can blame them? This is the best, first step.
Running water is completely fascinating to most cats. It entices them to drink. It’s not feasible for most pet owners to leave a running faucet all day, everyday – but if you could, chances are you’d find Fluffy watching it, playing with it and best of all, drinking from it numerous times throughout the day. If your cat is like most cats, a properly maintained, freshly filled pet fountain is a terrific weapon against dehydration.
If a pet fountain is not in the cards for your household then do try to use a ceramic, glass or stainless steel bowl rather than a plastic one. There are several reasons to avoid plastic and they are: bacteria, mold and foul smells and tastes from the inability to get the plastic really clean and because of it’s tendency to scratch (which is a great place for bacteria to settle in and multiply.
When feeding wet food, sprinkle a few more drops of fresh water on top – don’t do this with dry food as it will cause the dry food to spoil.
Use filtered water rather than tap water because tap water can contain high levels of minerals and chlorine.
Not getting enough hydration is dangerous for cats so always keep an eye out for a change in water intake. If there’s a significant decrease or increase, illness – even fatal illness – can be looming. Conditions such as hyperthyroidism, tapeworm, diabetes, bladder infection, liver failure, kidney failure and other serious issues can all be attributed to changes in water intake.
Look for these serious warning signs of dehydration:
Elevated Heart Rate
Decrease in Skin Elasticity
If you fear that your cat may be in danger of dehydration or is experiencing signs of dehydration, please contact your veterinarian immediately – please don’t delay as things can go bad very quickly for a dehydrated feline or for one who is experiencing symptoms of dehydration.