Tuesday 19 March 2024

Why do cats drink dirty water? What about chloride and fluoride?

Why do cats drink dirty water? What about chloride and fluoride?
Image: DALLE-E 3

Cats may drink dirty water due to a variety of reasons:

  1. Proximity to Food: Cats instinctively avoid water sources that are too close to their food. In the wild, water sources near dead animals can contain bacteria, so cats tend to drink water as far from their feeding area as possible.

  2. Plastic Bowls: Plastic containers can get scratched over time, allowing bacteria to build up in the small crevices. Cats have sensitive noses and taste buds, and they may refuse to drink clean water if it’s in a contaminated bowl.

  3. Bowl Shape: Cats dislike lapping up water from bowls where their sensitive whiskers touch the brim. The shape of the bowl can therefore be a factor.

  4. Preference for Running Water: Some cats prefer running water and may seek out alternate water sources if they’re unhappy with their assigned water bowl.

  5. Old Habits: Cats have been living alongside humans for thousands of years, but they still retain some of their wild instincts. This can result in odd habits, like drinking dirty water.

  6. Chemicals in tap water - see below.

Remember, it’s important to provide clean, fresh water for your cat to ensure their health and well-being. If your cat continues to drink dirty water despite having clean water available, it may be worth consulting with a veterinarian.

RELATED: Bottled water or tap water for your cat?

Some more reasons:

  • Dislike of Bowl Location: If the water bowl is too close to their food, cats might avoid it due to an instinct that tells them water near food could be contaminated, as would be the case in the wild with animal carcasses near water sources.

  • Sensitivity to Bowl Material: Cats have sensitive noses and may detect bacteria in scratches of plastic bowls, leading them to avoid the water even if it’s clean.

To encourage your cat to drink clean water, consider providing multiple water sources, using wider and shallower bowls, and keeping the water bowl separate from the food bowl. Additionally, regular cleaning of the bowl to prevent bacterial build up can also help.

Does the chlorine or flouride in tap water put cats off drinking it?

Chlorine and fluoride in tap water can affect cats differently. While most municipal water sources treated with chlorine are safe for cats, some cats may dislike the taste of chlorine and ammonia, which could deter them from drinking tap water. Letting the water stand for a while before serving can help, as chlorine evaporates off over time.

Regarding fluoride, it is generally safe in the levels found in tap water, but high levels of fluoride or other minerals could be harmful if consumed in large quantities. Cats can typically drink any plain water that’s safe for humans, including tap water. However, if you’re concerned about the quality of your tap water or if your cat seems reluctant to drink it, you might consider using filtered water to remove chlorine and other chemical elements.

It’s important to ensure that your cat stays hydrated, as not drinking enough water can contribute to urinary problems in cats. If you notice your cat is avoiding its water bowl, you might want to try providing water from different sources or consider a water fountain that provides running water, which many cats prefer.

How can I tell if my cat is drinking enough water?

To ensure your cat is properly hydrated, you can monitor their water intake and look for signs of good hydration. Here are some tips:

  • Monitor Water Intake: A general guideline is that cats should drink about 1–2 millilitres of water per kilogram of body weight per hour. For a 10-pound cat, this translates to roughly one cup of water daily.

  • Check the Litter Box: Observe how often your cat uses the litter box. Most adult cats urinate two or three times a day. If you notice a decrease in the frequency or amount, it could indicate insufficient water intake.

  • Physical Signs: Look for physical signs of hydration. A well-hydrated cat will have moist gums, and their skin will quickly return to place if gently pinched (known as the ‘skin tent’ test). A dehydrated cat may have dry gums and their skin may not fall back as quickly when pinched.

  • Behavioural Signs: A healthy cat will have a good appetite and energy levels. If your cat is lethargic or has a decreased appetite, it could be a sign of dehydration.

If you’re concerned about your cat’s water intake, consider placing multiple water bowls around the house, using a cat water fountain, and ensuring the water is fresh and clean. If you suspect your cat is not drinking enough or shows signs of dehydration, consult your veterinarian for advice tailored to your cat’s specific needs.

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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