Cats have a well-earned reputation for being finicky when it comes to drinking water or just about any liquid there is.
There is an ancestral instinct with water, perhaps, to stay away from unpredictable bodies that they can’t control. But considering that all mammals need hydration to stay healthy and alive, there has to be some way we can supply our four-legged picky friend with some liquids.
Water aside, the only liquid cats are known to drink is milk. But that’s based on a factual error. Cats can only drink their mother’s milk, and only when they’re kittens.
Almost all cat breeds are naturally lactose intolerant. As kittens, they stay safe from symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea while drinking their mother’s milk because an enzyme in their body breaks down the lactose. But, when these cats become adults, their body naturally loses the enzyme, so they’re not able to digest the milk sugars as they did before.
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What Liquids Can Cats Drink?
In general, the types of liquids that cats can drink include:
- Mother’s milk
- Special kitten formula
- Special cat milk
- Bone broth
- Apple juice
As for mother’s milk, cats typically stop nursing after 8 – 10 weeks, when they become used to eating liquid food. However, if a kitten does not drink its mother’s milk, one way humans keep it hydrated is by feeding it special kitten milk.
Special Kitten Milk Formula
Especially if you have an orphan kitten, using kitten formula is the best step you can take to keep it alive and healthy.
Many companies design special kitten formula milk, which provides the kitten with enough nutrients to develop and grow. It’s usually high in fat and mixed with other components that make it strong enough to wean off milk and start consuming solid food.
However, if you have an adult kitten that needs hydration, kitten milk is not a good option. That’s where special cat milk comes in.
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While most adult cats have no qualms about drinking water to stay hydrated, some require an additional source. This mostly happens if they’re ill or have a sickness such as chronic kidney failure or extra stubborn drinking water.
In any case, vets prescribe something known as cat’s milk, which is a lactose-free substitute that mimics the taste of milk. Keep in mind; this milk doesn’t offer the bags of nutrients your cat will get from a bowl of delicious chow. But it will be enough to keep your cat hydrated.
The crucial component here is to provide your cat with a healthy, balanced diet with milk so your cat’s body doesn’t end up depending on the milk for nourishment.
Bone broth is perfect for cats of all ages. It’s a special delicacy for just about all pets, but most cat owners use bone broth to make their cats healthier following an illness.
Bone broth is made using the meat and bones from chicken, beef, or lamb, which is boiled until the meat falls off the bone. Cats don’t need any seasoning on their food, so there’s no need to add salt and pepper. Basic bone broth works perfectly if you want to keep your cat hydrated too.
But again, as with cat milk, the bone broth alone does not offer complete nourishment. But as long as you keep giving your cat proper food with the broth, your cat should do fine.
This may seem like a strange inclusion to the list, given that cats can’t have any citrus.
But, a small amount of apple juice a day is OK, as long as you pay attention to your cat’s teeth and gums. Cats don’t have taste buds that identify sugar to get hooked to sugary drinks. But too much of it will cause gum and teeth damage, as well as cavities.
Your cat may also have an allergic reaction to apple juice. So, if your cat starts farting, vomiting, or has diarrhea, that’s a sign to take away the juice and switch it with cat milk or plain water.
If not, you can even give your cat sliced apple. Only make sure you remove the stem and the seeds. These are choking hazards and are the most toxic parts of any fruit, including the apple. So, be warned.
A Note on Rehydration Fluids
If your cat or kitten is feeling sick, there is a chance it will not drink any liquids, whether it’s water or any of the above.
If that happens, you will need to take your cat to the vet right away, so they can provide your cat with rehydration fluids. These fluids are medically-tested and work well in rehydrating your cat’s body properly.
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What Your Cat Shouldn’t Drink
1. Cow’s Milk
Milk or any other dairy products are a no-no.
Your cat will experience extreme flatulence, diarrhea, and vomiting because its stomach will not break down the proteins in the milk. But remember that despite the harmful effects, your cat won’t know that. And will, in fact, seek milk because of its smell and flavor.
So, if you have milk in the house, keep it locked in the fridge.
This includes sugary drinks, carbonated drinks, caffeinated drinks, alcoholic beverages, juices, drinks with xylitol, drinks with raw eggs, energy drinks, and more.
Aside from being very dangerous for your cat’s health, these drinks include high sugar content, leading to weight gain and metabolic problems. If you ever catch your cat licking any such beverage, take it to the vet as soon as possible.
Unless your cat is extra picky, it won’t have an issue drinking water.
Nevertheless, you will want to take some extra steps to make sure your cat stays hydrated. Have a bowl of fresh water in every room in the house, and swap out the water every day. Invest in a water fountain if your cat likes flowing water. And feed it wet food, so your cat gets some extra water in.
Besides, give your cat some milk as a treat some days, and don’t be afraid to experiment with bone broth and apple juice in its diet.
The right tricks will keep your cat happy, healthy, well-nourished, and well-hydrated, all without it having to drink cups of water each day! Learn about saving a dehydrated kitten will let you know how to use different liquids to keep the cats hydrated.