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Cats have very low thirst drive, which can make keeping them adequately hydrated a challenge at times. Often, we may not notice their lack of hydration until a problem has occurred, such as bladder stones. 

Not only do cats not have a strong desire to drink water, they also silently struggle with using a standard water bowl. Cats are nearsighted, which makes using a water bowl a struggle, and the way they lap water is inefficient, which means they are unlikely to gain much from the effort. On top of that, they are particular about water and prefer fresh, moving sources.

All that interest in the kitchen sink makes sense now, doesn’t it?

Despite their genes inclining them not to drink as much water, they still need to stay hydrated. In fact, water makes up over 60% of their body weight, and it’s just as important for them as it is for humans. Not only does it flush out toxins, it keeps organs healthy and decreases the risks of health issues.

So how do you help your cat stay hydrated? Here are some ideas:

Wet Cat Food

Since wet or canned cat food contains more moisture than dry kibble, offering pates, chunks of meat in broth, and other forms of cat food in a can goes a long way towards keeping them hydrated. In fact, their genetics predisposes them towards getting much of their moisture from food.

My cats love these Glazed and Infused, Friskies pate, and Sheba options.

Food Toppers

If you are feeding dry kibble to your cat, consider adding a wet food topper for a little extra hydration. We love Nulo, and they offer a variety pack of wet food toppers. This is essentially a small amount of regular wet food, sometimes higher quality, that can be added to the top of kibble. Just keep in mind that all of the food will need to be finished before the wet topper goes bad sitting out, so it’s best to do this with small controlled portions.

Squeezable Tube Treats

Another option for food-related sources of hydration are our favorite–squeezable tube treats such as the ones from Hartz. This can be squeezed into a bowl or, if you want bonding time with your cat, squeeze it out for them as they eat it. We are fans of Nulo products, and our cats love their squeezable tube treats but Churu  has a great reputation as well. 

Water Dish

Of course, having the right bowl of water available is also important. Since cats do not prefer standing water bowls–and are often just ‘making do’ with the one that is available–a fountain dish can be great to entice them to stay hydrated. Fountain dishes keep the water flowing and filtered, and the sound and movement can provide additional stimulation to encourage cats to the water. 

Some cats may prefer a fountain bowl that resembles a faucet, such as this one from Pioneer which we have had a great experience with.

Or you may prefer this one.
If your cat doesn’t need or like the more extreme shapes of those, then consider one of these more decorative dishes. We love these two from Drinkwell.
However, judging by the sheer volume of reviews, the most popular cat fountain dish is the flower shaped ones, available from several brands.
With almost 150,000 combined reviews between these three, and the majority of them positive, it’s safe to say these are popular with cats and their humans.

Water Enhancer

This is like Mio, but for cats. The water enhancer adds meat flavoring to the water, to help entice your kitty to up his water intake. From both our attempts and reviews, it’s safe to say cats are wildly split on how much they like this. Grue will drink it, but Spooky turns up his nose at it. 


Whether or not your cat enjoys the water enhancer, please keep fresh, unflavored water available as well. Also, adding the enhancer to a fountain dish with a filter would be a waste–the enhancer would be quickly filtered out.


Packaged broth formulated for cats is another great option for encouraging hydration. Even sick cats who are not eating or drinking well sometimes can be enticed to drink broth in a variety of flavors.

Any of these products, or a combination of them, can significantly help your cat stay hydrated and encourage better, long term health–and hopefully fewer vet bills.

Which of these products do you like the most? Let us know in the comments!

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