How to encourage your cat to drink more
30th March 2021
Good hydration is as important for cats, just as it is for us humans, and changes in your cat’s drinking behavior can be a sign that your cat is unwell. In addition, many cats’ drinking patterns change throughout their lifetime, with 2/3 of adult and senior cats suffering from illnesses like kidney disease and diabetes, that are linked to drinking and hydration. Most owners aren’t aware that kidney disease is the number one cause of serious illness in cats of 5 years old and over.
The sooner these illnesses can be picked up, the more likely that they can be effectively treated, which is why regular vet check-ups are so important. It's also why it is essential for cats to have somewhere appealing and safe to drink; that way you can be sure that your cat is able to get all the fresh water it needs, and you will be able to spot any early changes in water intake that could be a sign of illness.
If your cat already has a health problem like kidney disease or diabetes that causes an increased need for water, it is doubly important provide a good place to drink, so that your cat can easily drink enough to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Location, location, location - make your cats drinking bowl accessible
The first step is to remove all the barriers that stop a cat from wanting to drink from its bowl. That may sound like an odd thing to say, but a cat may refuse to use a bowl simply because it is in the wrong place. The cat likes everything else about the bowl, but not its location. The bowl’s location is one example of a barrier.
Typical barriers include:
- The water bowl is too close to a food bowl.
- The bowl is near a litter tray.
- The bowl is in a busy location where the cat is often disturbed whilst drinking (e.g. near doorways).
- The bowl is in a dark corner that makes it hard for the cat to see reflections on the water. Unlike food, water doesn’t have an smell, so cats must find it by sight. Water therefore needs to be presented to cats in a well-lit place that they regularly visit.
Of these, the most common issue is that the water bowl is too close to the food bowl. Although we tend to eat and drink at the same time, in the same place, cats prefer to eat and drink separately. What the cat wants is for the water bowl to be in an easily accessible, noticeable spot that is well lit so that the water is visible, but not in a very busy area or close to a water bowl or litter tray.
Make the water attractive for your cat to drink from
Having removed barriers, we want to offer water in a way that is attractive and encourages the cat to drink, so that the cat doesn’t have to go elsewhere for water. Cats usually crouch when they drink, so the bowl should not be too high off the ground. They are also attracted to shallow, flat areas of recently deposited water like a puddle after a rain shower, where the water is fresh, has lots of attractive reflections, the edge of the water is visible for them to drink from, and they can lap without getting their face wet.
This is exactly how Felaqua Connect was designed. Working with veterinary behavior specialists, we looked at the natural preferences of cats, and then designed a bowl that enhanced all the features that cats like. The water is presented on a dark coloured, wide flat bowl that holds the water in the centre like a puddle. The material the bowl is made from has natural water-repellent properties that make the water stand up from the surface, making it more reflective so that the edge of the water glistens. It is easy for cats to see the water from a distance, and the bowl is comfortable and easy to drink from. Preference testing with cats throughout the development process means that we got every detail right: this is a bowl that cats helped to design.
Although cats love Felaqua Connect, a small shallow bowl of the kind cats prefer wouldn’t hold enough water. The added reservoir keeps water fresh and tops up the bowl automatically.