Cat's Need for Water

QUESTION:

I have a friend who owns a six year old mixed breed female cat. She got the cat a couple of months ago. She claims the cat does not drink any water except for a little water she adds to her moist food.

Therefore, she does not provide the cat with any additional water. No water dish. She says that this is normal behavior for some cats, that is, not to drink any water.

I think she's crazy. Is her position on this matter at all true? I feel she may be killing her cat and I find the situation very disturbing. Please give me your comments on this matter.

ANSWER:

My comments are a very strong EVERY CAT NEEDS FRESH WATER DOWN IN A SEPARATE BOWL 24 HOURS A DAY! Yes, canned food has lots of water in it. Yes, if she is adding more water to the food, then the food has an even greater water content.

Yes, it is true that healthy cats with good kidneys and no diabetes or hyperthyroidism do not drink much at all. HOWEVER, they must have the choice to drink water at all times, regardless of how small an amount it is.

The reason cats do not drink much is due to their evolutionary background. In the wild, cats would get most of their water from the bodies of their prey. However, with the advent of commercial cat food, cats do not get enough water from their food and most cats walk around every day a bit dehydrated. This is not good for their urinary tract or any other part of their bodies, for that matter.

In research done at The University of Pennsylania School of Veterinary Medicine on cat urinary obstructions, the end results were that the most important action, and in fact probably the only one, that we can take to prevent obstructions is to encourage drinking. I recommend to all my clients that they provide water fountains for their cats. Cats are known to drink more when the water is moving, fresh, and cooler.

Your friend is, in my opinion, engaging in animal abuse and is asking for trouble with the future health of her cat. Feel free to quote me. And thank you for bringing up this important topic!

Dr. Neely

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