Now that researchers at M.I.T. have discovered the physics that allow a cat to drink water, it is time to talk about why water intake is so important. Several common medical conditions that we find in our cat patients benefit from increasing their water consumption. We recommend increasing water for our older cats with kidney disease, with bladder infections or bladder stones, and for cats with constipation, or other digestive problems. Sometimes it is very challenging to convince your cat that they need to drink more water to stay healthy. I often have trouble convincing my (human) kids to drink water.
We can measure the effectiveness of increasing water intake by measuring a cat’s urine concentration – the more dehydrated the higher the concentration of their urine. One of the most fundamental ways to increase water consumption is to feed more canned food or eliminate dry food completely. Cats that are taken from all dry food to all wet food will have their urine concentration drop dramatically. Unfortunately, some cats are very set in their ways and refuse to eat anything other than their traditional dry kibble. We wrote an article about canned food a few months ago and had a link to a very detailed document describing the best techniques to introduce wet food to finicky cats.
For some cats with chronic kidney failure or recurring bladder disease, we need to go further. Try to provide water in multiple dishes in varying locations throughout the house, and change them frequently. Many cats are attracted to moving water so using a pet water fountain will often increase water consumption. We can add water or dilute chicken broth to their food to make a “cat food soup”. You can provide a separate water container that is flavored with chicken broth or with ice cubes made from a canned tuna and water puree made in your blender.