Most housecats are dehydrated – here is what you need to know about it

Cat drinking water

Do you feed your cat dry food? If the answer is yes, then your cat is most likely dehydrated. And did you know that cats don’t have the thirst drive that we have? Well, those two together sound like a recipe for a health problem.

How much water your cat needs to stay healthy depends on their size, diet, age, activity level and environment (for example, your pet will need more water in hot weather). Wild cats get most of their fluid intake from the foods they consume – their natural prey have around 70-80% moisture content. So our goal as pet parents would be to meet that requirement. However, dry food is only 5-10% water.

You might say, “but my cat is drinking lots of water.” And while it is true that cats fed a dry diet do drink more water (compared to cats fed wet food), it is not enough to compensate for the lack of moisture from their food. Which means that those cats live in a constant state of low dehydration which can lead to urinary and kidney problems. 

Does adding water to kibble help with water intake?

Interestingly, there was a study conducted in 2017 on the effect of changing the moisture levels of dry and wet diets, and how it affected physical activity in cats. But what I want to focus on is what they noted on the water intake: 

“An interesting finding in the present study was the difference in the total water intake between the different dietary treatments. The significantly higher water intake of cats on the wet diet agrees with previous research, and indicates that cats on a low-dietary moisture diet do not fully compensate by drinking water to reach the same total water intake as when they were fed a high-moisture diet.”

So even if a cat’s kibble had water added to it (bringing the moisture content to 70%), it still was not enough to compensate for the lack of water percentage in dry foods.

What can you do to ensure your cat “drinks” enough water?

The first step to ensure your cat’s water intake is sufficient is ditch the dry food and give your pet a moisture-rich food. Raw and canned diets have around 65-80% moisture content which is pretty much the same as what their natural prey would have. 

Some cats enjoy drinking flowing water – as moving water instinctively is more likely clean. You can try and see if your cat would enjoy drinking from a kitty water fountain, or even a sink. Check out my post on current deals and offers to see if they are on sale.

Adding/ offering bone broth to your cat. You can purchase such broth in most pet stores or make it yourself – there are plenty of recipes online. You can feed your cat the meat from the broth but not the bones – cooked bones become brittle and can break into sharp shards that can cause choking and serious injuries to your pets digestive tract.

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Picture of Paulina, Chumka's Mom

Paulina, Chumka's Mom