Pampering Your Feline. Should You Add Extras to Kitty’s Water Bowl?


Cats need water just like humans do, as it is essential for their health and survival. Water helps transport nutrients throughout the body, aids digestion and kidney function, and prevents dehydration. However, some cat owners find that their feline friends do not seem to drink enough water on their own. This leads them to wonder if they should add things to the water to entice their cats to drink more. Some common questions include: Should I flavor the water? What about adding supplements or medications? Would a fountain help? This article will explore the options for supplementing your cat’s water and when it might be necessary to do so.

Water Needs for Cats

Water is an essential part of a cat’s health. Cats need access to clean, fresh water at all times to avoid dehydration. According to Preventive Vet, cats typically need between 3.5-4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day. For example, a 10 pound cat would need around 7-9 ounces of water daily.

Dehydration can occur if your cat is not drinking enough water. Symptoms of dehydration include lethargy, dry gums, sunken eyes, and poor skin elasticity. Severe dehydration can lead to kidney failure and even death. It’s important to monitor your cat’s water intake and take action if you notice a decrease. Providing multiple fresh water sources around your home can encourage drinking.


Adding flavored powders or broths to your cat’s water can encourage hydration, especially if your cat is finicky about drinking plain water. Popular options include tuna juice, chicken broth, and commercial products like Nulo Hydrate. According to Reddit users, homemade bone broth without onions or other flavorings can also entice picky cats to drink more. However, take care not to make the water too strongly flavored, as cats have a strong sense of taste and smell.

While flavors can promote hydration, they also carry some risks. Adding anything unfamiliar may put off some cats or cause an upset stomach if consumed in large quantities. Chicken broth and tuna juice add extra calories, which may lead to weight gain if providing flavor daily. Commercial products contain added vitamins and electrolytes that aren’t necessarily needed by healthy cats with balanced diets. Most vets recommend skipping flavorings if your cat drinks plain water normally. Monitor intake and weight when first offering flavored water to watch for changes.

Overall, a little flavor can encourage hydration for some cats but isn’t mandatory for healthy pets. Use sparingly, choose lower-calorie options like broths, and monitor your cat’s intake and weight when making changes. If your cat refuses plain water entirely, speak to your vet about safe ways to increase palatability.


Some common supplements that can be added to a cat’s water include electrolytes, vitamins, probiotics, glucosamine, and more. These supplements may provide certain benefits when added to a cat’s water, but also have some potential risks.

Electrolyte supplements like Purina Pro Plan’s Hydra Care can help promote hydration by providing essential electrolytes like sodium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium. They help the body better absorb and utilize water. However, electrolytes should only be used under veterinary guidance as too much can cause an imbalance.

Probiotics and vitamins added to water can support a cat’s immune system and overall health, but may not be fully absorbed and utilized when simply added to water rather than administered directly. It’s best to consult a vet.

Glucosamine supplements may help joint health when added to water, but studies show absorption in water is limited compared to other delivery methods. More research is needed on proper dosing as well.

While adding supplements to water may provide benefits in some cases, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian before starting any supplement regimen to ensure safety and efficacy.


Giving liquid medication to cats can be challenging, but there are some tips to make it easier. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, the easiest way is to mix the medication into some canned cat food (1). The food helps mask the taste of the medication so your cat is more likely to consume all of it. Make sure to mix the medication thoroughly into the food.

Another tip from Zoetis Petcare is to dilute the medication with water or broth and give it via an oral syringe (2). Squirt the liquid into the side of your cat’s mouth. Give a small amount at a time and allow your cat to swallow before giving more. Go slowly so your cat doesn’t choke.

Eastern Animal Hospital recommends giving medication on an empty stomach when possible (3). Wait at least an hour after meals to administer medication for maximum absorption and effect. Be patient and calm when giving medication to help ease the process.


Cat water fountains provide fresh, flowing water for your cat which can encourage them to drink more. According to experts, the benefits of cat water fountains include:

– Encourages drinking – The moving water attracts cats to drink more, keeping them hydrated. Cats tend to prefer fresh running water. Source

– Filters water – Most fountains contain a filtration system to remove impurities and keep the water fresh. This also helps prevent buildup of bacteria and slime. Source

– Convenient access – Fountains provide easy access to water instead of needing to refill a bowl constantly. The running water encourages drinking. Source

Filtered Water

Using filtered water for cats has some benefits but also some drawbacks to consider. According to, filtered water removes impurities, heavy metals, and other contaminants that may be present in unfiltered tap water. This can improve the taste and smell of the water, making cats more likely to drink an adequate amount. Filters also remove chlorine from tap water, which some experts believe may be harmful for cats over time if consumed regularly.

However, filtering water also removes healthy minerals and nutrients like magnesium and calcium that are beneficial for cats Unless the filter is adding these minerals back in, the resulting water may be less ideal for cats than unfiltered tap water. Additionally, filters need regular maintenance and replacement to work properly and avoid contamination – if not properly maintained, they could potentially introduce bacteria into the water.

Overall, filtered water can be a healthy option for cats if the filters are well-maintained. But unfiltered tap water that is safe for human consumption is also fine in most cases. Consulting with a veterinarian can help determine if filtered water is recommended for a specific cat’s needs.

Ice Cubes

Putting ice cubes in your cat’s water bowl can help keep their water cool and refreshing on hot days. Many cats prefer chilled water, as they perceive it as being fresher. According to one Quora post, ice cubes are generally safe for cats to consume as part of their water intake.

The cold temperature of the ice cubes can encourage cats to drink more water, which is beneficial for their health. Proper hydration helps flush toxins from your cat’s body and prevents issues like urinary tract infections. Just be sure to monitor the water level as the ice melts and refill it as needed.

Use caution with very small kittens, as they may have trouble eating the ice cubes. And remove any uneaten ice before it melts completely to avoid overly chilled water. But for most adult cats, offering ice cubes in their water on hot days can provide a tasty, refreshing treat!

When to Call the Vet

Dehydration in cats can be serious if left untreated. According to WebMD, signs of dehydration in cats include:

  • Dry or sticky gums
  • Sunken eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Skin tents when gently pinched
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fast breathing rate
  • Not producing tears
  • Infrequent urination or dark yellow urine

The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine states that you should call your veterinarian if your cat is showing any signs of dehydration. Dehydration needs to be addressed quickly before it can lead to more severe complications such as kidney failure or seizures.

In particular, you should seek prompt veterinary care if your cat is not eating or drinking at all, is vomiting or has diarrhea frequently, has very sticky gums, or seems extremely lethargic. Kittens, senior cats, and cats with medical conditions may also be at higher risk for dehydration.

With veterinary treatment, most cats can recover well from dehydration. At-home care may include subcutaneous fluids, oral electrolyte supplements, and encouraging food and water intake. Listen to your veterinarian’s recommendations for nursing your cat back to proper hydration.


In summary, while adding flavors or supplements to your cat’s water can encourage drinking, it’s best to first try offering filtered water in a cat fountain. Cats often prefer moving water and will drink more when provided a fountain. If your cat still isn’t drinking enough, talk to your veterinarian before adding anything new to their water.

The most important supplements to focus on are electrolytes for dehydrated cats. Flavors can also entice picky drinkers. Avoid giving your cat medication or supplements without veterinary guidance, as toxicity is a risk.

Monitor your cat’s water intake and urine output. Seek veterinary advice if you notice changes or have concerns about hydration. Providing fresh, clean water daily is essential. With a few tweaks to their water presentation, most cats will consume an adequate amount.

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