Why cats drink little and why it can be dangerous

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The lack of drinking by our cats has its origins in their ancestry. The ancestors of our present domestic cats lived in steppes and savannah areas. So relatively dry areas with few water sources. As a result, they mainly covered their liquid needs by eating their prey. A mouse contains about 70% water.

How much water does a cat need?

As a rule of thumb, a cat needs 50ml of water per kilogram of body weight. If a cat weighs 4kg, that would be 200ml of water.

A free-range cat that naturally also eats mice absorbs sufficient liquid. You don’t have to worry about these cats. If they are offered a bowl of water, they are well supplied.

It is rather our pure apartment cats, which one has to take care of when taking water. If they mainly eat wet food, they actually absorb enough liquid. Commercially available wet food contains about 70-80% water. If the cats eat additional or exclusively dry food, a sufficient intake of water becomes particularly important.

Health risks when cats drink little

When cats drink little they do not absorb enough water, this can promote the emergence of various diseases. Especially diseases of the kidneys and the urinary derivative organs occur very frequently in cats.

The insufficient water intake is not a cause of these diseases, but is often a decisive factor for the course of the disease.

Bubble stones or struvite stones are produced, for example, by an unfavourable mineral composition of the feed. If the urine is also highly concentrated due to a too low fluid absorption, the bubble stone is formed much faster.

Kidney diseases such as chronic renal insufficiency (CNI) are somewhat different, as the kidneys have often been damaged by infections or the like. Here it is important to relieve the kidneys by adequate water absorption and thus to protect kidney function.

How to encourage your cat to drink water?

When cats drink little there are various ways to animate them to drink. You just have to try out which one works.

Tip for drinking places

  • Cats don’t like to drink wherever they eat, so you should set up the water bowl separately from the food.
  • Since cats are casual drinkers, it makes sense to set up several water bowls. Best in places where the cats are constantly running anyway.
  • You can also try to make the water more interesting. For some cats it helps to add a few drops to the water.
  • It is very important to renew the water every day.
  • If everything doesn’t help, you can also try to enrich the wet or dry food with water.

Cats Drinking Fountain

Another way to encourage the cats to drink is to purchase a drinking fountain. Since cats are very curious they find the water movement very interesting.

We have had such a drinking fountain for a very long time. Since one of our hangovers had chronic renal insufficiency years ago, we bought a cat drinking fountain to improve his kidney function. Of course, our other cats also quickly accepted this new watering point. Even our little Josie learned to drink from it very quickly.

Our drinking fountain is relatively simple compared to those that are now offered. It is a water tank with a submersible pump that conveys the water and an activated carbon filter for cleaning the flowing water. This drinking fountain does not yet have a motion switch so we have installed plugs with movement switch. Our drinking fountain has been running like this for many years. We only change the activated carbon filter every few weeks.

What are the drinking fountains for cats?

To put it in advance, the cats probably don’t care what the drinking fountain looks like. For them, it’s just important that water comes out. What can be important for an anxious cat is the noise that makes the circulation pump. There are some differences here. The noise cannot be completely avoided, but some types of drinking fountains can mask the noise by splashing the water.

In the meantime, many tink fountains also have a built-in motion switch, so that you can do without an additional switch like with our drinking fountain.

Simple drinking fountain without movement switch

Drinking fountain from Catit
This simple drinking fountain holds 3l water and has an activated carbon filter.

The tink fountain shown above is the same model that we have been using for years. However, it runs all the time and you either have to plug it in or out manually or you buy a motion switch.

Drinking fountain with movement switch

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This drinking fountain is significantly more expensive than the upper one, but it has some useful functions. In addition to the mode in which it only approaches when a cat approaches, it also has an intermittent mode. At this, the drinking fountain automatically starts at intervals and then goes out again. This makes the fountain interesting for the cats, especially at the beginning.

Drinking fountains made of ceramic

Ceramic drinking fountain from IPETTIE
The ceramic drinking fountain from IPETTIE holds 2.1l of water and has an activated carbon filter. Who wants to avoid plastic can do something good for his cats with this shapely cat drinking fountain

If you don’t want to use plastic, you can alternatively buy a ceramic drinking fountain. The above-mentioned drinking fountain also looks good and also has an activated carbon filter.


Most cat drinking fountains don’t have a movement switch, so they run all the time. This doesn’t have to be, we have been using our simple drinking fountain for years with a plug with a movement switch. This works perfectly and our cats have also got used to it. The motion switch is adjusted to turn on the well when someone approaches 1.5m.


Especially in the case of apartment cats, a sufficient water absorption is particularly important. No matter what you do, whether you set up several water bowls, add water with some milk, add water to the food or set up a drinking fountain. The main thing is that the cats absorb more water.

We recommend a drinking fountain from our own experience. We have the impression that almost every time a cat walks past it and he then drinks it a little bit.

Letzte Aktualisierung am 2021-01-12 / Affiliate Links / Bilder von der Amazon Product Advertising API

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