Cats Are Choosy About Their Beverages. The Surprising Drinks Cats Crave


Cats need to stay hydrated just like humans do. Water is essential for their health and wellbeing. While water is the most important drink for cats, they enjoy and benefit from other beverages as well. In moderation, drinks like milk, broth, juices and tea can provide extra nutrition and variety to a cat’s diet.

This article provides an overview of the different types of drinks cats can enjoy, and the health benefits they provide. It will cover water, milk, juices, tea, flavored waters, broth, sodas and alcohol. The goal is to inform cat owners about safe, healthy beverage options for their feline companions.


Cats need water for hydration. Water helps transport nutrients throughout the body, regulates body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, and maintains organ health. The general guideline is that cats should drink 3-4 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day. For example, a 10 pound cat needs 6-8 ounces of water daily. It’s important to always provide fresh, clean drinking water for cats. Cats are susceptible to dehydration, so monitoring water intake is part of responsible cat care. Providing water bowls throughout the home and using cat fountains can encourage hydration.


Milk is not recommended for adult cats. Most adult cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they lack the enzyme lactase needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk (1). When cats drink regular cow’s milk, it can give them digestive upset, causing symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, gassiness, and abdominal pain (2). The undigested lactose in the milk acts as a food source for gut bacteria, which ferment it and produce gas (3).

While kittens can drink milk until weaned off their mother’s milk at around 8 weeks old, their lactase production starts to naturally decline after this point. By 6 months to a year old, most cats have become lactose intolerant. Some breeds like Siamese cats seem to retain some lactase enzymes into adulthood, but milk should still be avoided (1).

There are a few milk alternatives made especially for cats that are lactose-free and safe options. These include lactose-free milks and milk “treats” made for cats. But in general, it’s best to avoid regular cow’s milk, especially in large amounts. Water, cat-formulated milk substitutes, or broths are healthier choices.





Cats should generally avoid drinking fruit juices like orange juice or apple juice. While small amounts of natural juice won’t hurt them, fruit juices tend to have high amounts of sugar that can be unhealthy for cats over time. Cats’ bodies are not well equipped to process sugars and carbs, so they are at risk for obesity, diabetes, and other health issues if fed sugary foods and drinks regularly 1.

Some vets recommend diluting small amounts of pure, unsweetened juices like cranberry juice with water as an occasional treat. But cats rarely need supplemental vitamins and nutrients from juice, so it’s better to stick to plain water for hydration. If a cat accidentally ingests some fruit juice, monitor them for any adverse effects like vomiting or diarrhea. Overall though, it’s best to keep fruit juices out of your cat’s diet.

Tea and Coffee

Cats should avoid caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee. The caffeine found in these drinks can be toxic to cats. According to, “Caffeine can be toxic to cats and even the smallest amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death.” Cats lack the liver enzymes necessary to metabolize and break down caffeine efficiently. As little as 1 teaspoon of coffee grounds can be fatal to a 6 pound cat. So it’s best to avoid giving cats any kind of caffeinated tea, coffee, energy drinks, or soda.

Flavored Waters

Though flavored waters may seem enticing to cats due to added fruit flavors and sweeteners, it’s best to avoid giving cats these types of waters. As this source points out, the sweeteners and flavorings added to flavored waters can be harmful to cats. Cats’ bodies are not adapted to process artificial sweeteners, and the flavorings may also cause stomach upset.

Some specific concerns with flavored waters for cats include:

  • Artificial sweeteners like sucralose can cause diarrhea in cats.
  • Added vitamins and supplements may lead to toxicity if consumed in excess.
  • Flavors like citrus can be irritating to cats’ systems.

Instead of flavored waters, it’s best to provide cats with plain, filtered water. This allows them to get the hydration they need without any added ingredients that could be problematic. As one vet confirms in this source, flavored water marketed to humans is a firm “no” for cats.


Cats can occasionally drink small amounts of unseasoned broth as a treat. According to Four Paw City, bone broth and chicken broth without onions, garlic, or other seasonings are safe options. The broth provides extra hydration and nutrients like collagen, vitamins, and minerals. However, broths are high in sodium so they should only be an occasional drink, not a daily one. No more than a tablespoon or two a few times a week is recommended.

It’s important not to give cats broths containing onion, garlic, chives, or other toxic ingredients. Stick to plain, unseasoned broths and monitor your cat’s intake. Broths can add variety to your cat’s diet but too much can lead to weight gain or other issues. Moderation is key when offering broth as a supplemental drink.


Alcohol is extremely toxic and dangerous for cats to ingest. Even small amounts can cause severe reactions and poisoning (PETPOISONHEPLINE.COM). Alcohol has a more dramatic effect on cats compared to humans due to their smaller size. Drinking alcohol can cause a wide range of concerning symptoms in cats including increased thirst, lethargy, disorientation, tremors, breathing issues, seizures, and even death (PETPOISONHEPLINE.COM). If a cat accidentally ingests alcohol, immediate veterinary attention is required. Cats should never be allowed to drink alcoholic beverages, and any alcohol around the home should be kept safely out of a cat’s reach.


Sodas like cola, rootbeer, and other carbonated soft drinks should always be avoided for cats (Source: The high amounts of sugar found in regular sodas can lead to obesity, dental issues, and even diabetes in cats. Additionally, the caffeine in many sodas acts as a stimulant and can cause hyperactivity, restlessness, and heart palpitations. The carbonation and acidity in soda may also upset a cat’s sensitive stomach. While a small amount of soda likely won’t poison a cat, it provides no nutritional value and the risks from high sugar, caffeine, and carbonation are too great to make sodas a safe beverage for felines.


The best drink for cat health is plain, fresh water. While cats may enjoy milk, juices, tea, broths, flavored waters, sodas or alcohol on occasion, these should only be provided in moderation or for special treats. Water helps cats stay hydrated and supports kidney function and urinary tract health. Most vets recommend giving cats access to clean, fresh water at all times. Cats that primarily drink water are less likely to develop issues like kidney disease, urinary tract infections, bladder stones, hypokalemia and hyperthyroidism. Some cats enjoy drinking running water from fountains or taps, which can encourage water intake. Ultimately, cat owners should aim to keep their cats properly hydrated by providing a consistent supply of plain water.

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