One of the cats that is a long-term resident here needs lots of water and isn’t much of a drinker. Bright Eyes urinary tract stone almost killed her. Thanks to our wonderful vet, she’s alive and healthy today. The problem is she’s a picky eater. To make matters worse, the food she likes, which isn’t any of the prescription diets, has been discontinued. I talked to our vet, and he assured me that the most important thing to do is get her to take in more water, from her fountain, in her food–any way we can increase the intake. He gave me a handout with excellent tips to add to some of the old standbys. Many are familiar to cat owners, but some we forget or just never occur to us. I decided it’s time to write them down for those of us who fight this battle.
- Add a bit of water to the food. Slowly add water and perhaps, set two or more mealtimes, rather than free feeding, to encourage the intake. Don’t make soup. Just moisten. If it’s well received and/or the cat get used to it, try just a bit more.
- Check your cats reaction to different size, shape, and depth of his/her drinking bowl. Some like it shallow, others like deeper. Still others like to play in it, which is messy, but better than not drinking. Move the bowl if that’s a problem. DON’T ever take water away from a cat to keep the house clean.
- Try adding foods such as the water from tuna, clam juice or low salt gravy. Of course, check the ingredients. Avoid any with seasonings, onions, garlic, sweeteners (some are toxic to pets). You can boil some skinless chicken and add a pinch of salt too.
- If you have a water filter or order bottled water, use that. Cats love clean, fresh water.
- Pet fountains also go over well with most cats. Leo, one of the refuge cats with allergies, loves to tip his head upside down under the spout. I used to panic when I’d hear him coughing after he got too much water that way. It sounded like an asthma attack. Gandolph, loves to play with food in the water, like a raccoon. We try not to keep the bowls too close together, but he will bring the food to the fountain to chase it around in the water. Be ready for anything when cats get creative!
- If you can manage to turn a faucet to a very slow drip and put a shallow bowl under it, that may work for cats that like to drink out of running faucets and regularly run around checking sinks and tubs for water. Cats that don’t already do that probably won’t find extra water left in those locations.
- Make ice cubes with water flavored with meat or fish. Boil a can of water-packed tuna in a couple of cups of water. Let it cool, strain it, make ice cubes to add to the water bowl. A small piece of beef or pork can be boiled too and a pinch (just a pinch) of salt won’t hurt either, but not too much or they won’t drink. The caveat here is that it creates extra cleaning. If you aren’t willing to clean the bowls daily, spoiled meat or fish in the water could cause you to have a very sick cat.
- Some cats don’t want to eat and drink in the same place, just like the don’t like to eat too close to the litter pan. Try varying the distances of food and water and litter to find your cats “happy place and space.”
Hope this helps. Let me know if you’ve found other ideas that work, and we can share that information.
P.S. The picture at the top is the catio and back yard after the Memorial Day 2015 flood. Everyone came through it safely, just a bit soggy.