Cats need to stay hydrated to avoid serious health problems, but they don’t make it easy.
Our furry friends have low thirst drives given their long evolutionary history of obtaining much of their fluids from meat. They just don’t feel the need to slurp down water the way other animals do.
When cats live in human homes, keeping them hydrated can be even more difficult because they’re mischievous little stinkers.
Buddy’s no exception. The little dude loved to knock his water bowl over and paw at the water, so I replaced his bowl with a wide-bottom stainless-steel one that is virtually impossible for him to upend.
Then I noticed his water was sometimes dirty, or I’d find things in his bowl: hair ties, toys, the little plastic rings from drink bottles, twist ties and other things he likes to play with.
Bud was taking random things from around the house and depositing them in his water bowl, which is probably just another fun game for him. (Some theories suggest this behavior is instinctual as well, that cats are “washing the scent off” toys representing prey or simply hiding it as they would a kill.)
“Cats often put their toys away in a ‘safe’ place after playing with them, and cats look upon their food area as a secure part of their territory,” says a Q&A from Chewy. “This behavior is similar to cats in the wild who often take their prey back to their nest area to hide it from potential predators. Your cat simply might be storing his toy in a secure area to be played with later.”
As far as Buddy’s concerned, the entire apartment is his territory, but he’s especially protective of his little dining nook.
I can imagine the dialogue in Buddy’s head: “Hmmm, bottle cap. Where did I put my favorite bottle cap? Oh, right. My water bowl!”
Little dude gets two fresh wet meals per day, and at night I put out about half a bowl of good dry food as a late-night snack and something to tide him over till morning if he gets peckish overnight. (It usually prevents him from waking me up strictly for food, but he still finds his reasons to interrupt my sleep.)
I put fresh water out for him twice a day at set times, and sometimes randomly if I notice the water’s low, dirty or there’s a toy in it.
Between the wet food and the bowl he probably gets just about enough fluids, but I think we can do better, for his health first and foremost — since so many serious cat ailments, especially in males, are linked to dehydration — and to avoid costly and traumatic veterinary procedures.
Can anyone recommend some good fountains?
I’d like something non-electric, but a cat fountain that uses gravity to release stagnant water kind of seems like it defeats the purpose. I’ve also read that plastics are bad, as dirt and dust can get embedded in the surface. Finally, articles about pet fountains often suggest flat drinking surfaces are best to encourage cats to drink, as their whiskers don’t get caught or wet. I’m not sure how much difference that makes, and it’s probably different for each cat.
Do you have a fountain for your cats? What are your thoughts on how effective it is at getting them to drink more?