You CAN lead a cat to water! How to get your cat to drink more

Cats require plenty of fresh, clean water to maintain urinary health and prevent kidney disease. Senior cats especially need to drink generously to pamper their aging kidneys. So in honor of Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month, I’m covering the art of getting your cat to drink more water.

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Susan’s cat Longfellow finds the fountain fascinating to play with.

When my cat Ivan began to have issues with feline lower urinary tract disease, everyone had ideas to encourage him to drink just a little more.

My veterinarian suggested adding clam juice to his water. Ivan stuck his nose up. A friend gifted him with a kitty water fountain. My inquisitive young cat Longfellow (pictured) found it fascinating, but Ivan regarded it with disdain. I let the tub faucet drip to draw his attention, but the sound drove me crazy.

Keeping Ivan hydrated was becoming a bigger chore than he or I wanted it to be.

I finally decided that simplicity was best. Why stop at one or two water bowls? I went to my cupboard for unused crockery and made water available at a generous number of locations throughout the house. I wanted Ivan and the rest of my cat clan to encounter water bowls throughout the day and be enticed to take a drink.

It worked. I was amazed to see how often I found a cat lapping from a bowl just because it happened to be on his way from point A to point B. Here are some tips for fine-tuning the strategy:

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Susan’s cat Cricket’s favorite bowl is both attractive and artistic.
  • Put water bowls in places your cat likes to spend time. Cats are usually given two small bowls for food and water, placed where humans aren’t likely to trip over them — often in a busy kitchen where a cat has to dodge feet to get a drink. Give your cat additional options near his favorite lounging spots.
  • Change the water often. A tiny bowl quickly becomes unappealing if it isn’t refreshed once or twice a day.
  • Use bowls you’ll like to look at. Additional water bowls don’t need to be bland. I have a beautiful pottery bowl from an artists’ sale by the door to my living room. A tall handsome crock in the bathroom helps my arthritic senior cat lap without bending her stiff shoulders. How about that old set of china, or the serving bowl you were given that doesn’t match a thing? Might they brighten up a corner or a hallway?
  • Offer some additional incentives. By placing a sturdy water dish inside your bathtub, you can encourage your four-footed tub-surfer to take another drink, or provide a playful cat with a place to splash to her heart’s content without soaking the floor. Toss a ping pong ball in there for some added activity!
  • Prevent messes. Outside of the tub, you can help tame a feline water-paddler by placing one bowl inside another. The water your cat splashes out of the first bowl will simply spill into the second. Beautifully glazed plant saucers work well for this, and give you yet another reason to visit your local garden center this spring.

Ivan doesn’t have a favorite bowl. He drinks from each and every one. He knows they all were placed there just for him!

However, my senior cat, Cricket (pictured), is three-legged and full of attitude. Her favorite bowl is ceramic, square, painted with lemons and leaves, and sits on a cabinet between two windows in my den. I’m not certain why water tastes better from her special bowl, or why she chooses to climb to drink when there are more convenient bowls all around her. I don’t question her royal judgment. If it keeps her drinking, and helps keep her healthy in her senior years, I’m happy!

Tell us: Does your cat have a favorite place to drink water?


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