Hydration Station: How To Get Your Cat To Drink More Water

I “strongly dislike” drinking water. We try not to use the word “hate” in our home, especially since we have kids. But if we used it, I’d say it. I don’t care if you add ice, don’t add ice, add lemon or other flavors or if it comes from a spring in the highest mountains of Asia. I’m not a water drinker. Terrible, I know. I’m pretty sure this is because I am part-feline… But this post is about getting your cat to drink more water, not you (and certainly not me).

Many cats are also poor water drinkers.

Ancestral cats were desert dwellers, so they adapted to low water intake. My cats (both my three at home and the three who live in my feline-only veterinary hospital) are all on CANNED ONLY diets so they get most of their water intake that way (more on the benefits of canned food in another post). However, cats today need more water to help prevent and treat modern-day medical conditions.

All cats should have multiple sources of fresh water available at all times. Multi-cat households need various sources to decrease competition for resources. 

Cats who especially need to drink more water are cats with:

  • Lower Urinary Tract Disease (aka cystitis or bladder inflammation, which is usually found in younger cats, or chronic urinary tract infections, which are usually found in older cats)


  • Chronic Renal (i.e. kidney) Disease – Yes! These cats are likely already drinking a lot of water…but they need more!


  • Chronic constipation – often secondary to Chronic Renal Disease!


  • Old age – they just tend to get dehydrated quicker. Again, we can often blame the kidneys or other diseases.


  • An addiction to dry food – boo! This can create a world of problems such as obesity and urinary issues as well.


Here are 17 suggestions for getting your cat to drink more water…


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Place water bowls both together AND away from food bowls. Did you know that?

turning sink on to get cat to drink more water


Turn on a gentle stream of water in the sink. The mesmerizing flow might entice your curious kitty to take a sip.


Set up water stations in various rooms to make water easily accessible for your cat. This can encourage them to drink more by providing convenient options throughout their daily routine. In a multi-storied house, have one on each level.


Elevated bowls – Place water bowls at different heights around your home, such as on elevated platforms or shelves. Cats often prefer drinking from an elevated position, mimicking their natural behavior in the wild. I’m loving this one because a) it’s ceramic and b) it’s deep enough for water.

Now this one looks like it’s better suited for food (as opposed to water) but I had to mention it because it’s gorgeous and looks different from all the others.

getting a cat to drink more waterPut a water bowl in the bathroom. Or how about a drinking glass by your night stand? Cat’s love to dip their paws in water and then lick their little toes!


Incorporate interactive water toys that engage your cat’s natural curiosity. These gadgets can pique their interest and encourage them to investigate, leading to increased water intake. Our hospital cats love playing with these wiggly fishies.


Use a large bowl (e.g. dog bowl) for water. Cats don’t like their sensitive whiskers to touch the sides of bowls. This is called “whisker fatigue” and it’s a real thing! Your looking for wide and shallow water dishes to avoid touching your cat’s whiskers. Some cats find it uncomfortable to drink from deep bowls, so try using saucers or shallow dishes (like the elevated bowls above).


Change the water twice a day and WASH your bowls frequently! Bacteria builds up quickly in standing water. Cats are sensitive to smells, and a dirty bowl may deter them from drinking. Consider using stainless steel or ceramic bowls that are easier to clean.

You’ve made it halfway through! Here are my final tips to get your cat to drink more water!

Cat-friendly water fountains – oh yeah! There are so many cute fountains out there! Some cats take right to them but others need encouragement. A few tips…

  • Don’t turn it on right away but let them get used to it at first.
  • Keep the fountain out for at least a month. Again, cats are creatures of habit and can take a while to try something new.
  • Just like a regular water bowl, fountains need regular cleaning and some are easier than others. Coming soon…a post on The Best Water Fountains for Cats!


In the meantime, this fountain is my newest one and is AWESOME because IT’S CORD-FREE Y’ALL! WHAT? All my problems have been solved. It’s so quiet AND it’s MOTION ACTIVATED!!!


Add water to dry food. Your cat may or may not go for this. You can also try infusing your cat’s water with a hint of flavor by adding a small amount of tuna juice or chicken broth. Just be sure to use low-sodium options and limit the amount to prevent excessive consumption.


Freeze chicken broth or fish juice in ice cube trays and add 1 cube to a bowl of water.


Some cats like plain ice cubes in their water! If not, they may just like to bat it around and make a mess on your floor. Fun! So just drop a few ice cubes in your cat’s water bowl. The cool temperature and playful bobbing of the ice might make water more appealing, especially during warm weather.

Hydra Care by Purina ProPlan. I HAVE to mention this one! As a feline-only veterinarian this is a product I recommend on a regular basis. Did you know that Purina studied this product and found that cats who drank Hydra Care went on to drink more water as well? So cool!


Some cats like to lick the wet shower floor so keep that area clean and rinse the soap out well!


Put a motion detector on the faucet for cats who like to drink out of the sink. This rose gold sensor is so pretty!

Get your kitten used to canned food now! I’m a believer in an all-canned diet for cats (higher protein, lower carbs, more moisture, etc.), but I’m not one to tell someone how to live their life and everyone’s circumstances are different. But if you get your cat on an exclusive (or primarily) canned food diet then maybe you can just ignore all my advice above because they’ll get lots of water that way – ha ha! Of course, they still need a beautiful water fountain just because…


Please note! If your cat IS drinking a lot of water (either chronically or suddenly) then she may have a medical problem such as kidney disease or diabetes. See your cat-friendly veterinarian for a check-up!


Remember, each cat has unique preferences, so it may take some trial and error to find the method that works best for your kitty. With a bit of patience and creativity, you’ll soon have your cat happily lapping up water and staying hydrated like a pro!


Comment below with the unique ways you’ve found to get your cat to drink more water!

2 Responses

  1. Hi Dr. Carter,
    We are actually, well our cat Sam, is actually your pt. We buy gravy heavy canned food and put warm water (1.5 oz at least) in food dish with the food….it becomes a soupy/gravy thing and he drinks all the water/juice before he eats the meat. This is 2x’s a day/ He’s 11.5 yoa and doing great. Thank you doing this blog, what a great learning tool.

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I’m Dr. Amber Carter. Board-certified feline-veterinarian. Business owner. Homeschooling mom. Cancer survivor. Hot chocolate connoisseur. 

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