Am I a Bad Cat Owner If I Don't Have Fresh Water for My Cat All the Time?

Cat drinking water from fountain
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Encourage your cat to drink more water by providing her with a water fountain.

Q: Am I a bad cat owner if my pet doesn’t have fresh water all the time?

A: Lots of things fall into the category of being a "bad" cat owner, such as letting an animal’s coat become filthy and matted, or not providing appropriate training and then punishing the pet for mistakes. Let’s just say, though, that you'd be a much better owner if you refreshed your cat’s water bowl at least once a day. That’s because it’s really important to encourage cats to drink — and I’m not talking about the hard stuff.

Benefits of Water

Cats need water to preserve life and health. Without water on a daily basis, even healthy cats can develop dehydration. The severity of dehydration that can occur in cats with other health issues is even greater. Water helps to maintain body temperature, aids in digestion and circulation, and transports nutrients, to name just a few of its vital functions.

Another reason water is an essential element of a cat’s diet is because cats can be prone to idiopathic cystitis — in other words, bladder infections of unknown cause. Taking in enough water helps to dilute urine, causing cats to urinate more often. That helps to prevent bacteria from gaining a foothold there, as well as helping to reduce the risk of crystal and stone formation.

Ensuring your cat stays well hydrated also helps reduce hairballs. Cats who take in enough liquid have better intestinal motility, allowing hair ingested during grooming to pass normally through the gastrointestinal tract.

Paying attention to how much water your cat drinks offers clues to her health. Suddenly starting to drink large amounts of water on a regular basis may indicate that your cat has a medical problem, such as diabetes or kidney failure. Any change in your cat’s level of thirst should be brought to your veterinarian’s attention, but if you aren’t putting fresh water in the bowl at least once or twice a day, you might not notice how rapidly the level drops.

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