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Fur Times | January 25, 2020

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Why Water is Important for Cats

Why Water is Important for Cats
Francisco DiPolo, DVM, CVA

My cat, Sammy, is a perfectly healthy 10-year-old male tabby. For most of the past eight years, I have been concerned that he doesn’t seem to drink enough water. Recently, he moved into Worth Street Veterinary (to cheer everyone’s life, obviously), and he quickly adopted a very cute routine.


At the entryway of the practice, we have an elevated stand with fresh water in two big, wide bowls for dogs to drink. Sammy seems to have decided that these bowls are entirely for him. He perches himself on the stand every morning, eagerly waiting for them to be filled. He’ll even become very vocal and bossy if you don’t do it quickly enough.

This somewhat bizarre discovery got me thinking about cats’ behavior towards water, and how critical consumption of water is for their long-term health. The food industry has conveniently brainwashed most pet owners into believing that dry food is an ideal way to feed their cats. I am convinced that feeding felines dry meals will lead over time to a chronic state of dehydration that ultimately is a contributing factor to the large number of cats that veterinarians see with kidney disease. I often recommend that cat owners feed their pets a wet formula exclusively in order to increase water intake.

Because felines are very particular about where they drink their water from, it’s best to take note of their preference. I strongly believe that cats would prefer eating and drinking from a wider bowl or surface area where their whiskers won’t be confined and get wet or dirty. Perhaps a simple way to encourage our feline friends to eat and drink more is to get a wide—and perhaps flatter—container to offer their meals and water.

Now that I’ve learned Sammy’s particular bias, from this point on I’ll be paying a lot more attention to where (and how) food and water is offered to him. I hope to have Sammy around for a very long time, and I hope that his funny idiosyncrasies will continue to teach me things that may help other pets.

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