Cats & Distilled Water – The Truth Revealed

What is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is water that has been boiled into vapor and condensed back into liquid in a separate container, leaving behind solid contaminants and heavy minerals. This process is known as distillation and allows for the purification of water.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, distilled water is defined as “water that has been purified by distillation” (source). Cambridge Dictionary states that it is “water that has had all its impurities removed using the process of distillation” (source).

The distillation process removes chemicals, minerals, and contaminants from water, resulting in pure H2O. Distilled water contains no minerals, salts, metals, or other impurities that are typically present in tap water or groundwater. It is considered the purest form of water because almost all impurities have been removed through the evaporation and condensation process.

The lack of dissolved minerals is what gives distilled water its properties of being clear, odorless, and tasteless. Since there are no impurities present, it has a neutral pH of around 7. The purity of distilled water makes it useful for medical, scientific, and industrial applications where high-quality water is essential.

Why Use Distilled Water for Cats?

Cats can be sensitive to excess minerals and contaminants that are often present in tap water. Tap water may contain harmful substances like heavy metals, chloride, fluoride, and other contaminants that can build up in a cat’s system over time (1). Distilled water is one way to provide cats with a source of pure, mineral-free water. The distillation process removes impurities and dissolved solids, resulting in water consisting of just hydrogen and oxygen molecules (2). This avoids potential issues caused by minerals and toxins found in regular tap water.



Is All Cat Water Distilled?

Many cat waters on the market are distilled to remove impurities, but not all cat waters are 100% distilled water. Some brands mix distilled water with additives like vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and flavors. While these additions may provide benefits, they mean the water is no longer purely distilled.

When choosing a cat water brand, it’s important to read the label closely to see if it’s made from 100% distilled water or contains added ingredients. Brands that specifically advertise “distilled water for cats” likely use completely distilled water without additives. But other cat waters may be distilled and then have supplements added in. Just being labeled as “cat water” doesn’t automatically mean it’s fully distilled.

Checking the list of ingredients is the best way to verify if a cat water is purely distilled. If minerals, electrolytes, or other ingredients are listed in addition to purified or distilled water, then the product isn’t 100% distilled water.

According to one source, “Bottled water, including specific cat water brands, is generally safe, but it may not be 100% distilled water.” (Source)

Risks of Distilled Water for Cats

While distilled water is generally considered safe for cats in the short-term, there are some potential risks associated with feeding cats only distilled water long-term:

One of the main concerns with long-term use of distilled water is lack of minerals. Distilled water is purified via evaporation and condensation, which removes all minerals and salts. This leaves just pure H2O. Cats need minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium in their diets to support cellular function, muscle contraction, and more. Drinking only distilled water over time could lead to mineral deficiencies if the cat’s main food source does not provide adequate mineral levels [1].

This lack of minerals can also throw off electrolyte balance in the body. Electrolytes like sodium, chloride, and potassium help carry electrical signals between cells and transport nutrients. An electrolyte imbalance can disrupt normal functioning. Severe imbalances can even lead to heart arrhythmias [1].

Alternatives to Distilled Water

While distilled water may seem like a pure option for cats, it lacks essential minerals that cats need. Fortunately, there are some healthier alternatives to provide your cat with safe, mineral-rich hydration.

One alternative is to use filtered water. A high-quality water filter can remove contaminants like heavy metals, chlorine, and fluoride, while retaining healthy minerals. Make sure to use filters certified to remove lead and other heavy metals of concern.

Spring water is another good option, as it contains naturally occurring minerals from underground aquifers. When bottled correctly, spring water provides better mineral content than purified or distilled water. Just check that the spring water is bottled at the source and not merely tap water.

You can also add supplements to distilled or filtered water to replace lost electrolytes and minerals. Potassium chloride, calcium lactate, and sodium chloride are safe additions. Talk to your vet about supplementation based on your cat’s needs.

With the right water filtration and mineral balance, you can give your cat safe, nourishing hydration. Avoid straight distilled water, and work to mimic natural spring water as much as possible.

Choosing the Right Cat Water

When choosing the right type of water for your cat, you’ll need to consider factors like their age and any existing health conditions. Kittens, senior cats, and cats with kidney disease often benefit from drinking distilled or purified water. However, some vets argue that long-term use of distilled water could lead to mineral deficiencies if you don’t replenish the minerals your cat is missing out on.

For healthy adult cats, filtered tap water is usually adequate. Simple water filters like pitchers or faucet attachments can remove contaminants like heavy metals and chlorine, without stripping away essential minerals. Spring water is another healthy option that contains naturally-occurring minerals.

If your cat is prone to urinary tract infections or bladder stones, your vet may recommend alkaline water or adding supplements to increase mineral content. Cats with urinary issues need to drink a lot of water, so making it appealing is key. Consider getting a cat water fountain if your cat isn’t drinking enough tap water.

Pay attention to your cat’s age, health, and preferences when deciding on the optimal water. But in most cases, filtered tap or spring water provides the right balance. Talk to your vet if you have any concerns about your cat’s hydration.

Adding Minerals Back to Distilled Water

Since distilled water lacks essential minerals, it’s important to add minerals back in for the health of cats drinking it. There are a couple easy ways to do this:

You can add cat electrolyte supplements like Tomlyn High Calorie Nutritional Gel to the distilled water. These provide a balanced blend of minerals and electrolytes cats need.

Another option is using trace mineral drops designed for distilled water, like Trace Minerals Research. These quickly remineralize distilled water with ionic and colloidal minerals.

Always follow dosage instructions carefully when adding supplements or mineral drops to cat water. The proper mineral balance is important for your cat’s health.

Ensuring Adequate Water Intake

Ensuring your cat drinks enough water each day is important for their health. Here are some tips to help encourage adequate water intake:

Place water bowls throughout the house so there is always water readily available. Cats can be picky about where they drink, so providing bowls in multiple spots increases the chance they will drink more. Make sure to refresh and clean the water daily.

Consider getting a cat fountain. The moving water can entice picky cats to drink more. Fountains come in different styles, from free-standing to circular bowls, so you can find one to fit your home. They provide filtration to keep the water clean and fresh. Be sure to change the filter on schedule.

Feeding wet cat food, instead of only dry kibble, is an easy way to add moisture to their diet. The canned food has high water content. You can also add some water to the dry food to make it softer.

Monitor your cat’s water intake and watch for any signs of dehydration like lethargy or dry gums. Consulting with your vet can help determine the ideal daily water amount for your cat’s needs.

Signs of Dehydration in Cats

Dehydration can be a serious condition in cats, so it’s important to watch for key signs and symptoms. According to WebMD, some of the most common signs of dehydration in cats include:

  • Dry gums – Dehydrated cats often have sticky, dry gums when you lift up their lip to check them. Healthy hydrated gums should be moist and slippery.
  • Sunken eyes – As dehydration worsens, a cat’s eyes may appear more sunken in and recessed. This happens as fluids are drawn away from the tissues around the eyes.
  • Lethargy – A dehydrated cat may become increasingly tired and lethargic. They often lack energy and motivation to move around.
  • Reduced skin elasticity – Gently pinching and releasing the scruff of a dehydrated cat’s neck often results in the skin staying tented or taking longer to flatten back down. Well-hydrated skin quickly returns to normal.

Other potential signs include reduced urination, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, and muscle tremors. If your cat is displaying multiple symptoms of dehydration, contact your veterinarian right away.

When to See a Vet

A visit to the veterinarian is recommended if dehydration signs persist in your cat. Cats are susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs) or kidney issues, which can be exacerbated by inadequate hydration. If you notice your cat is consistently avoiding drinking water over a couple days, it’s best to have them examined by a vet.

According to Why Won’t My Cat Drink Water? Is This an Emergency?, dehydration can quickly become an emergency for cats, so contact your vet promptly if your cat shows signs like lethargy, dry gums, sunken eyes or skin. The vet can run tests to check for UTIs, kidney disease or other underlying conditions causing your cat’s picky water habits.

Early intervention from your vet can help identify and treat any problems leading to dehydration in cats. With their guidance, you can safely encourage adequate hydration for your feline friend.

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