Monday, January 3, 2011

Getting Creative to Keep My FIV Cat Hydrated

Cats like humans need water to sustain their health and well being. A cat can skip meals however they need to hydrate their bodies to prevent illness; bladder infection and cysts will occur if the cat is not hydrated.

My cat Sam shows no interest in his water in his bowl and I needed to find ways to get him interested in water so that his body would be hydrated. Sam has feline immunodeficiency virus and his life needs to be an equal balance at all times. Any change to his happy life could make him sick.  I must watch his water intake to make sure he stays hydrated.

 It is not uncommon for cats to avoid drinking water and pet owners must get very creative to entice their cat to drink more water. If your cat shows signs of illness and is staring at the water bowl, but not drinking then contact your veterinarian. Otherwise for all other finicky cats that need to be coaxed into drinking more water, here is what I suggest.

The first thing that I needed to do is determine if Sam was getting his daily water intake from another source; fish aquarium, faucet, cup in the sink or toilet. To achieve this I measured the amount of water going into his water bowl. Sam is 10 lbs and his daily water intake needs to be 3/4 cup to 1 cup per day so I filled the his bowl with one cup of purified water.  I cleared my schedule so I could watch Sam's drinking habits.

I discovered that Sam did a balancing act on the aquarium and drank a little fishy water in the morning, then in early afternoon he drank some lactose free milky water in the sink, followed by licking up the droplets of water in the shower and in the evening he charged to the guest bathroom and attempted to drink from the toilet while it was going down the drain. 

At the end of the day I poured his water from his bowl back into the measuring cut to determine what he drank and Sam drank 4 tablespoons of water. I learned that Sam did like water, as long as it was flavored and interesting. I had my work cut out for me and I was determined to wean him off his bad water habits and get him to drink water from his bowl as I was certain that he was not getting enough water to keep him hydrated.

Update:  The best way to keep your cat hydrated is to make water fun. Since Sam enjoys water movement I got him a pet water fountain at  It took him some time to figure out that he was suppose to drink the water.  At first he played with the water but soon he learned that he could drink the water and now  Sam loves the water fountain


vallain said...

Who would have thought that a cat would prefer such odd water sources over the fresh water you provide. I wonder if he would drink it if you flavored it with a little beef or chicken broth.

Maybe you need a cat-cam to see what else Sam has been up to.

Sgolis said...

vallain: It took a very long time to get Sam to drink filtered water. He was too accustomed to going to the other water sources. I weaned him back to filtered water by flavoring the water with chicken broth and albacore tuna water. Every day I would give him less flavoring. When the flavored water was weak, Sam would stare at his water bowl and then stare at if to say..."what gives? Where is my tasty water?" Sam cracks me up....a very funny cat.

Cassandra Clevenger said...

Cats don't like to eat right next to their food. There are some skills left over from the wild and this seems to be one of them. Raw food and everything that goes with processing meat can contaminate the water. My cats always exhaust their water dish in the living room before they use up the one in the kitchen next to their food. I always keep it 2 fresh water sources but I have 2 cats that are over 10 pounds. My Ravage who was part of a ferrel litter is more picky about it than my Herman who has lived the cushy life and I believe either ran away from his family or was dropped off. Thanks for the advice. I will keep it in mind if they ever change their ways and start acting finicky.