Water is essential to all living things, and the cat is no exception to the rule. Like most mammals, a cat's body is composed of two-thirds water. Water is critical to every system in the body. This includes the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, digestion and energy metabolism, and kidney function. Without sufficient water, dehydration—and eventually death—can result.
How Much Should My Cat Drink?
To understand your cat's water needs, let's review some basic biology. Your cat's distant ancestors were desert dwellers. They got most of their water from their prey—birds and small mammals—which were also composed of two-thirds water. There was little or no need to drink water on the side.
Fast-forward to today's housecat eating commercial cat food. Canned or "wet" food contains a high percentage of water, similar to a cat's ancestral diet. If the mainstay of a cat's diet is wet food, the cat will naturally drink less water, perhaps only 1-2 ounces daily. In fact you may rarely see her drink at all. Dry food, on the other hand, contains only about ten percent water. If a cat eats all or mostly dry food, he or she must drink more—several ounces of water a day—to meet the dietary requirement.
Several factors, including environment, age, and health status, may increase your cat's water needs. Hot weather or exercise can make a cat thirstier. Certain health conditions such as kidney failure, hyperthyroidism and diabetes deplete the body's fluid stores and will sharply increase a cat's need for water.
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