What Kind Of Water Should Cats Drink?


Water is essential for cats to maintain proper health and body function. Dehydration occurs when a cat loses more fluids than they take in, resulting in an imbalance of water and electrolytes in the body. Even mild dehydration can cause serious health complications if left untreated. Ensuring cats have access to fresh, clean water at all times is one of the most important responsibilities of pet owners.

Dehydration can quickly lead to potentially life-threatening issues like kidney failure, seizures, coma and even death in cats. It is important for cat owners to understand the causes, signs, and treatment options for dehydration in order to keep their feline companions healthy. Providing the right type of water, in the proper amounts, is key to preventing dehydration in the first place.

Tap Water Considerations

Tap water can be a convenient and affordable source of hydration for cats. However, there are some potential risks to consider before giving cats untreated tap water.

The main advantage of tap water is that it is readily available in most homes. It does not require any extra effort or expense to provide it to cats. The fluoride and other minerals added to municipal tap water can also help promote dental health in cats.

However, tap water may contain contaminants like heavy metals, bacteria, parasites, chlorine, and fluoride that can be harmful if consumed over time (Source). The levels of these contaminants can vary by geographical location and water treatment processes.

Chlorine is commonly added to tap water as a disinfectant. While small amounts are likely safe, excessive chlorine can cause gastrointestinal issues or irritate a cat’s skin and eyes. Tap water may also contain heavy metals like lead that can accumulate in a cat’s body over time.

To minimize risks, many cat owners opt to use a water filtration system or provide bottled water instead of straight from the tap. Consulting with a veterinarian can help determine if local tap water is safe or if taking precautions is recommended.

Filtered Water

Filtered water can be a good option for cats when it is properly filtered to remove unwanted contaminants. There are several types of filters that can be used:

Filtered water or water run through a Reverse Osmosis system is particularly good for cats, as it removes many contaminants that may be harmful. These systems use a multi-step process to remove chemicals, heavy metals, microorganisms, and other impurities from tap water.

Activated carbon filtration is another effective method for removing chemicals and impurities. The carbon traps contaminants through the process of adsorption. This type of filter is commonly found in pitchers, faucet mounts, and refrigerators.

Sediment filters are also useful for trapping particles and sediment in water. They can remove rust, dirt, and other debris. These are often used as a pre-filter before other more advanced filtration systems.

When choosing a filtered water system, look for one certified to remove specific contaminants. Well-filtered water can provide cats with a healthy drinking source free of harsh chemicals and toxins.

Bottled Water

Bottled water can be a good option for cats to drink, as long as you choose a high quality bottled water. According to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, bottled spring water or bottled tap water varieties are safe options for cats to drink (https://www.hillspet.com/pet-care/nutrition-feeding/pet-safe-water-sources). Bottled water comes from a regulated, controlled source, unlike tap water which can vary greatly in quality and safety from region to region.

One of the main advantages of bottled water is that it does not contain chlorine, fluoride, or other chemicals commonly found in tap water that can be harmful to cats if consumed over long periods. Bottled spring water in particular tends to have a more balanced mineral content that is healthy for cats.

However, one downside of bottled water is the environmental impact of the plastic bottles. This can be mitigated by choosing brands that use recycled plastic or by reusing glass bottles. There is also a higher cost associated with bottled water compared to tap water.

Overall, bottled spring water makes a good everyday drinking water for cats. It avoids the risks of tap water while providing a safe, consistent source of hydration.

Well Water

Well water can contain harmful bacteria, chemicals, minerals, and heavy metals that may be unsafe for cats to ingest (source). High levels of minerals like magnesium and calcium found in hard water can lead to urinary tract infections or blockages. Nitrates from fertilizer runoff can also contaminate well water and cause methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome) if ingested by cats.

It’s recommended that all well water be tested for contaminants before giving to pets (source). Water softeners which remove calcium and magnesium ions can make the water safer but may reduce palatability. Filtration systems like reverse osmosis or activated charcoal filters help remove harmful minerals and chemicals from well water.

In general, well water should be avoided for cats prone to urinary tract problems. Filtered or bottled spring water is a safer choice over untreated well water. Testing and treatment is advised to make well water potable for cats.

Distilled Water

Distilled water is water that has been boiled and condensed to remove impurities, minerals, and contaminants. This leaves only hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Some pet owners choose distilled water thinking it is the purest and healthiest option for their cats. However, distilled water may not be the best choice as the sole water source for cats according to veterinarians (source).

Distilled water lacks the essential minerals and nutrients cats need from water, such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Drinking only distilled water long-term could lead to mineral deficiencies over time. For cats prone to urinary tract infections or kidney stones, the lack of minerals may exacerbate these conditions (source).

That said, distilled water can be given occasionally or mixed with tap water to dilute potential contaminants. It should not comprise the entirety of a cat’s water intake. Veterinarians typically recommend spring, filtered, or tap water as healthier everyday options for hydrating cats.

Spring Water

Spring water is natural water that flows to the surface from an underground aquifer. It is generally considered one of the healthiest water options for cats because it contains essential minerals like calcium and magnesium but has a low mineral content overall (Hill’s Pet Nutrition).

The pros of giving spring water to cats include:

  • It has a neutral pH balance which is gentle on urinary tract health.
  • The low mineral content helps prevent urinary crystals and bladder stones.
  • The natural minerals like calcium and magnesium support bone and muscle health.

The main downsides are that spring water can be more expensive than tap water, and lacks the fluoride found in some tap water that helps support dental health. Overall though, spring water is a great choice to keep cats hydrated while supporting their urinary and digestive health.

Mineral Water

Mineral water contains dissolved minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium. This gives it a unique taste and can make it an appealing option for hydrating cats. However, there are some considerations when choosing mineral water for cats:

The carbonation and bubbles in some mineral waters can deter cats from drinking it or upset their stomachs. Opt for still, non-carbonated varieties. Sparkling waters may be too acidic for cats 1.

Added minerals are not necessary for cats on balanced commercial diets, so plain bottled waters may be a better choice. Excess minerals could lead to toxicity 2.

Some mineral waters have very high mineral content. This could alter the nutrient balance in a cat’s diet. Stick to more moderately mineralized waters.

In moderation, mineral water is generally safe for cats to drink. Focus on plain, still mineral water to provide extra hydration. But tap water or filtered water are adequate for everyday needs.

Flavored Water

Flavored water may seem like an attractive option to entice a cat to drink more, but it can actually be dangerous for cats in some cases. Flavor additives like tuna and beef broth can contain ingredients like garlic, onion, and excessive sodium that are toxic to cats 1. Even cat-friendly flavors may contain too much sugar, which cats’ livers cannot process well. Excessive sugar can lead to obesity, diabetes, and dental issues.

Some cat-specific water flavor enhancers like Nulo Pet Water Enhancer are formulated to be safe for cats in small amounts. However, veterinarians generally recommend avoiding flavored waters, as the smell and taste can encourage cats to drink too much and ingest dangerous levels of sodium. Cats’ kidneys are not well-equipped to handle excess sodium compared to humans. It’s best to stick to plain, fresh water for cats whenever possible.

If your cat refuses to drink enough water, check with your vet first before trying flavored waters. Your vet can ensure your cat does not have any underlying medical issues causing a lack of thirst. They may recommend alternative ways to increase hydration for your cat’s health.


In summary, the best types of water for cats are spring water, filtered tap water, and bottled purified water. Spring water is a great natural source of minerals and lacks contaminants, making it an ideal choice. Filtered tap water removes impurities while retaining beneficial minerals. Purified bottled waters, such as distilled water or reverse osmosis water, have had impurities removed through filtration and are safe options too. Avoid tap water, which can contain harmful contaminants, and mineral water, which has high mineral content. Well water and flavored waters may also pose risks. Provide your cat with spring, filtered, or purified water to support their health and hydration needs.

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