Have you ever wondered how much water your cat should be drinking? If you have recently got a new kitten you may be particularly unsure as to what’s normal and what’s not! Let’s explore a bit further about what you can expect.
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What is normal for kittens?
It’s first of all worth bearing in mind that each animal is individual. Factors like age and diet can play a part in how much fluid they need to take on board. One other thing to note is that cats are descended from desert animals and are therefore not known to be big drinkers generally.
The average amount of water an adult cat requires per 24 hours is 50 – 60 ml of water per kilogram of bodyweight. So a 4kg cat would need approximately 200 – 240 ml of water per day. You may find your cat drinks less than this if they are on a predominantly wet food diet, which has a high water/moisture content. Equally, you might find they drink a bit more than this if they are on dry food.
The amount of water a kitten drinks depends on their age. Very young kittens will get most of their fluid from their mother’s milk and won’t need anything else. Weaned kittens will need fresh water to drink.
At around 4 weeks of age, kittens start exploring with food. Up until this point, they will be getting all of their nutrition from their mother’s milk. Kittens may start to lap at water (or play with it!) but will still be getting most of their fluid from milk.
At around 8 weeks most kittens will wean themselves off of their mother. Many kittens go to their new home from around this time. It’s not uncommon for some kittens to continue suckling for a little longer though in some cases, all the while their mother is tolerating them. However, biologically, most kittens should be fine with just food and water by this point.
Kittens are completely weaned at this age and will be getting all of their nutrition from a complete kitten diet and fresh water.
It is not necessary to give kitten milk to kittens that are fully weaned from their mother. These products, which can be bought from many pet shops and supermarkets, should just be used as an occasional treat. You definitely shouldn’t give kitten milk in place of fresh water.
How can I encourage my kitten to drink?
Most kittens and adult cats will be able to self regulate how much fluid they need, so all you need to do is to ensure there is a constant supply of clean water. Cat’s should be allowed to drink whenever they want to and have access to water at all times.
Some cats will prefer drinking out of one type of bowl over another. So if you are worried that your cat isn’t drinking much consider trying a different type of bowls. You could perhaps try porcelain instead of metal or plastic, or vice versa.
Generally, a wide flat dish with plenty of space for their whiskers is best. Some cats will drink more from a source of moving/running water, for many cats, this is as simple as a dripping tap. You can get water fountains specifically for cats if you prefer, with a constant flow of water for them to lap up.
As your kitten gets older and ventures outside, you may not be able to monitor how much they are drinking at all. Many cats will start to drink from puddles, ponds and other sources of water in preference to tap water indoors. Cats seem to enjoy the taste of rainwater!
What if my kitten is poorly?
Most of the time you shouldn’t have to worry too much about your cat’s fluid intake unless they are showing signs of ill-health. If your kitten or adult cat becomes unwell they may stop drinking and might be losing fluids through diarrhoea and vomiting. If this occurs you should speak to your veterinarian as dehydration could occur, particularly in very young animals.
Signs of severe dehydration include lethargy, sunken eyes, loss of skin elasticity (skin doesn’t spring back when lightly pinched), decreased urination and inappetence. Cats can also on occasion go the other way and drink to excess if there are underlying health conditions. Particularly those affecting the kidneys and blood sugar levels.
You shouldn’t need to overly worry about how much your kitten is drinking as long as they are bright and well. Just make sure you are providing them with free access to clean, fresh water. However, if your cat is showing any signs of ill health or you notice a change in its behaviour, then call your vet for some advice.
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