How to Encourage Your Cat to Drink More

16 Tricks to Encourage Cats To Drink More Water: The Importance of Water in a Cat’s Diet

If there is anything I’ve struggled with all my pets in the 20+ years of cat purrenting is giving my kittos water. We all know the importance of water in a cat’s diet. But how do we encourage them to take more water?

I did some research on the topic and here is what you should know. This blog post gives you the importance of hydration, how much water cats should drink, and tips and tricks to help your cat drink more water.

Tips to Encourage Your Cats To Drink More Water

1. Use a Cat Water Fountain

Some cats love flowing water and maybe your cat is one of them. It gives them some sort of a rush feeling like they are hunting down the water.

If you’re looking to increase your cat’s water intake, a fountain would be a great idea.

2. Have Multiple Water Spots

Multiple water spots are great especially if you have many cats. Felines are territorial and may end up fighting over a simple water bowl.

If you live in a multi-level house, it would be great if you could put a water dish on every floor.

3. Clean the Water Bowls Frequently

Cats are clean animals and normally tend to avoid dirty food and water bowls. Make sure you clean your cat’s water bowls every day.

Use hot water and soap to get the best results. Sure, you can skip a day or two but don’t go for a week without cleaning them.

4. Only Give Fresh Water

Apart from cleaning your cat’s water bowl, you should also replace the water frequently.

5. Feed Them Wet Food

Your cat’s ancestors the African wild cat got their water from the food they ate. Remember a mouse is 80% water and so they had no problem with getting hydrated.

Animal% water in their bodies

(Exact percentages may vary depending on the species)

Now, since most of us have indoor cats (including me), we can try to imitate their ancestors by feeding them food that has high water content.

Canned food is wet and is a great way to get closer to your cat’s hydration goals.

Cat won't eat wet food

6. Keep the Water Bowl next to the Food

Remember the last time you were snacking on some chips or eating dinner and grabbed a glass of water mid-eating? This same concept also applies to cats.

While eating kibble, they may get thirsty. Guess what they will do when a full water bowl is staring at them? They won’t be able to resist but take a sip.

7. Place the Water Dish Away from the Litter

Think about it. Would you eat or drink if you were served next to a smelly washroom? Yep, neither will cats.

Their sense of smell makes it even worse in that they won’t even dare take a sip. To avoid this, it’s better to place the water dish away from the litter box.

8. Try Different Water Bowls

Cats, just like humans, have their preferences. My elder cat preferred glass water bowls but for some reason, my current cat prefers metallic dishes more.

It’s nothing personal, they just have their own taste.

You can try experimenting with glass, metallic or wooden bowls to find what your catto likes.

9. Add Water to Dry Food

According to Pet Food Institute, dry food typically has 10-12% moisture content. This is way below wet food’s moisture content which stands at a staggering 75 – 78 %.

To deal with this, you can start by adding some water to their food.

However, beware, your catto may refuse to eat it afterward. If your cat only wants to eat dry kibble, don’t force it.

But it doesn’t hurt to try.

10. Add Flavor to the Water

On this one, I actually relate to cats. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who drops some cucumbers in my glass to make hydrating a little exciting.

You can add some tuna juice to your kitto’s water just to encourage them to sip more.

11. Experiment with Different Water Types

Sometimes bottled water works better than tap water. Maybe your cat likes mineral water more. You have to experiment with your cat to know which one works best for them.

12. Add Some Broth

Photo by Alex Bayev on Pexels

Broths are an excellent way to spice up and encourage your catto to hydrate and drink more water. However, you have to only use plain low-sodium broths.

Avoid feeding your cat broths with additives like garlic, ginger, and other spices.

13. Use a Large Water Bowl

Some cats will not drink or eat from deep bowls and your cat may be one of them. There is a possibility your kitto is having ‘whisker fatigue’.

This happens typically to cats with long whiskers. Most cats hate it when their whiskers rub the sides of their water bowls. You can easily solve this by getting a wider shallow water dish.

Encourage Cats to drink more water
Photo by Lera Mk on Pexels

14. Elevate the Water Bowl

Elevating the water bowl makes it easier for your cat to take a sip, especially if your kitto is a lazy one like mine.

15. Fill the Water Bowl to the Brim

Filling the water dish makes it easy for your cat to take a sip especially if the bowl is not wide enough. Keep in mind most cats don’t like their whiskers rubbing on bowls when they eat or drink.

16. Encourage Your Cat’s Weird Water Drinking Behaviors

Some cats have some pretty weird behaviors. I once had a cat who would ignore the water bowls and only drink from leaking taps. No matter how much I tried, my catto completely refused to drink from the water dishes.

What did I do? I gave up and let him drink straight from the tap. And so should you.

Is your cat only willing to drink from leaking taps? Great go ahead.

Cat drinking running water
Photo by Leo Pekaar on Pexels

Not all weird behaviors are normal though. For instance, scratching the floor (or wall) when drinking water. Some cats will paw and even act like they are trying to bury their water bowls. I’ve prepared an article on this that you can check out on why cats scratch the floor when drinking water.

Cat with a bowl of water

Why Hydration Matters

Proper hydration in cats is important as it helps with maintaining normal body functions like regulating temperature, joint lubrication, maintaining normal electrolyte concentration, and food digestion.

Proper hydration is when there is enough water in a cat’s body. Now, when the fluid level decreases, your kitto will face some issues some of them including:

  • Multi-organ dysfunction
  • Inability to regulate temperature
  • Neurological dysfunction

Some illnesses (chronic kidney disease, diabetes, diarrhea, and vomiting) also lead to increased dehydration. If your catto falls in this bracket, it’s very important for you to up their water intake.

why hydration in cats matters

How Much Water Should a Cat Drink In 24 Hours?

An average 10-pound cat should take a cup of water per day. Cats who eat canned/wet food will tend to drink less water as the food already has some moisture in it.

As a general guideline, the Cornell Veterinary College recommends that for every five pounds of lean weight, a cat should take at least 4 ounces of water.

Weight (in pounds)Cat breedsRecommended water intake
5Siamese and other small breeds4 ounces (1/2 a cup)
10Average house cat8 ounces (1 cup)
25Maine coon and other big cat breeds20 ounces (2 ½ cups)

How to Monitor How Much Your Cat Drinks

You can easily measure how much water your cat is drinking through a water fountain. Although you can also measure using a water dish by using cups (or ounces), these only measures how much water you put in the water dish.

A water fountain would be your best bet to get an accurate number.

How Do You Hydrate a Cat That Won’t Drink Water?

The most efficient way would be by adding some water or broth to their kibble. Additionally, you can also experiment with jelly or wet cat food.

If all fails, then pay your vet a visit to discuss more hydration options.

So, you’ve done all that but your cat is still not drinking water, what next? Well, you can start off by understanding why cats hate water in the first place.


Do Cats Know When They are Thirsty?

Yes, cats know when they are thirsty. It is a biological function and your cat is only reacting to body needs.

Does Flowing Water Encourage Cats to Drink More?

Flowing water may encourage cats to drink more compared to still water. This comes from their ancestors in the wild who used to drink from rivers and dams with moving water.

Do not be surprised if your catto ditches the water bowl for your dripping tap water.

Cat Doesn’t Drink Water but Eats Wet Food

Cats who eat wet food are at a lesser risk of dehydration than their counterparts who only eat kibble. However, water is still very important. You can add more water to their food to make it wetter and increase the moisture levels.

Can I Force My Cat to Drink More Water?

Do not force a cat to drink more water. Instead, explore other creative avenues to have them take in more fluid. For example, using wet instead of dry food, giving tuna juice and broth.

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