Cat's don't need much water (around 4 ounces a day for every 5 pounds of body weight). Cat's ancestors adapted as desert hunters to get the water they needed from what they ate. A 10-pound cat can get about half of the water needed for the day from one can of wet food (a can of wet food generally contains about 70% - 80% water).
Dry food is a different story. It generally contains less than 10% moisture, meaning a dry food diet requires more drinking water.
The best way to make sure your cat drinks enough water is to make it appealing. This often has to do with taste, temperature, and attraction to the water source.
Clean the water bowl more often
The simplest and cheapest way to give your cat clean and fresh drinking water is to clean the drinking bowl as often as possible and not just simply add more water to it. If the bowl is dishwasher safe then put it in there from time to time. It helps to have more than one bowl so that there's another one available while the other is being cleaned.
Use better water
If your tap water is not very good then you might consider using filtered tap water or bottled water. Most people prefer their drinking water that way. Your cat might also. Since cats don't drink much it shouldn't be much of a cost.
Change the temperature
The water might be more appealing at a cooler temperature (especially on a hot day). You can try an ice cube or two in the water. If you're using bottled water then you can keep it in the refrigerator and top of the bowl once in a while to keep the water a little cooler.
Use a non-porous bowl
Plastic (especially when scratched) and porous materials allow bacteria a place to cling. Stainless steel and non-porous ceramic/porcelain do a better job of avoiding that problem. This can not only affect taste but can possibly affect health as well. Some plastic bowls can also leave a strange taste in the water (due to the chemical makeup of the material used to make the bowl).
Buy a filtered drinking fountain
Cat drinking fountains provide two main benefits over a sedentary bowl.
- The running water is appealing to a cat's natural instincts. You may have to give your cat a short time to acclimate to the movement though if used to an ordinary drinking bowl.
- Most fountains filter the water continuously. You'll still need to clean it once in a while but it will be far less often than a sedentary bowl.
The stainless steel fountain above holds one gallon of water (plenty so that your cat won't run out of water), has a ramp that reduces splash and makes drinking easier, and filters the water for better taste and operation (if used, the filters will need to be replaced once or twice a month).
While most of the parts are dishwasher safe, the pump needs to be cleaned manually as shown in the video above.
Some fountains are specifically designed for multiple cats where each can have their own water stream.
One to five streams can be created with the product above. Each stream is like a slow flow from a faucet. The flow of all streams can be adjusted. Like the Drinkwell Zen fountain, this Drinkwell fountain also holds one gallon of water, filters the water, reduces splash, and all parts are dishwasher safe except the pump.
This iPettie fountain offers a similar configuration to the Drinkwell 360° fountain except it's ceramic instead of stainless steel, has four fixed non-adjustable streams, and holds a little more than half the water of the Drinkwell product (70 oz.).
If you're looking for something extra quiet then you may want to look for a product without the splashing. The water in the above product flows out of the top and spills over the sphere back into the water.
The video above shows all the pieces to the Drinkwell Seascape fountain.
Some considerations for a drinking fountain
- The pump and some other parts of the fountain may be made of plastic but the bowl (where the water sits) should be made of a non-porous material that doesn't affect the taste (e.g., stainless steel or non-porous ceramic/porcelain).
- Look for a fountain with a gentle flow. Too much splash in the fountain stream can make your floor wet around the fountain and may make your cat less likely to use it.
- Another way water can end up on the floor is if the water pump and the bowl are designed in such a way that a leak can occur where the two attach. You want the bowl to be solid with the pump coming in over the bowl rather than through it.
- The noise can also be annoying to some people and possibly your cat. This noise can come from the pump or the splashing water. A quiet pump and gentle stream reduces the noise.
- Make sure it comes with a pump that's powerful enough. Cheaper fountains may cut costs by using inadequate pumps. Check the product reviews to see if people complain the pump is inadequate.
- It should be easy to clean. Although the water is filtered continuously, it will still need cleaning on occasion. You should be able to put all the parts but the pump in the dishwasher. You'll likely have to clean the pump by hand.
Adapt your sink faucet
Some cats prefer drinking from a dripping or running sink faucet. The benefit for your cat is that the water is always fresh. The benefit for you is that you'll never have to clean any bowl or fountain. The trick is to have the water available on demand and not waste water. Click on the article below to learn two ways you can set up a faucet for your cat to drink from.