Cats not liking water is a common myth. They might not like to go out in the rain (neither do we!) and they’re not known for being swimmers like dogs, but they still need to drink water every day.
Do you often wonder why cats hate water? Our helpful video is here to explain our cat's relationship with water and how much water a cat should drink to stay healthy.
Our moggies should be drinking water every day to stay happy and healthy. There’s nothing else your cat should be drinking. You should make sure your cat has a source of clean, fresh water all the time (even if they do sometimes prefer drinking from puddles).
For a lot of people, when we think of cats we might think of a big bowl of milk in front of them, but in reality cats don’t need milk to stay healthy. In fact, milk will do the exact opposite for your cat. Many cats are lactose intolerant which means that milk can upset their stomach. For the sake of your cat’s health and waistline, it’s best just to stick to water as part of their balanced diet.
You should never give your cat cow’s milk or any kind of milk substitute (for example, oat milks or nut milks) as they can make them very poorly. Around a third of cats cannot have cow’s milk as it upsets their tummy because they struggle to digest it and a lot of alternative milks are made from things that could even be toxic to your cat.
You might sometimes see special milk for cats in supermarkets or pet shops. While this is safe for your cat to drink, this milk is really fatty so cats love the taste, but it can cause them to put on a lot of weight. They can also miss out on key nutrients they need if they start drinking milk instead of eating their normal food. As it is so high in calories it should only ever be given as an occasional treat and never instead of water.
Before a kitten is weaned, they’ll need milk from their mum. As they get older they lose the activity of enzyme lactase, which means they aren’t able to digest milk so well. During weaning, they’ll start exploring different foods and water (usually around four weeks old) and be fully weaned at around nine weeks. At this point they’ll be happily drinking water and eating kitten food and won’t need their mum’s milk anymore.
Just like our adult cats, a fully weaned kitten will be more than happy drinking water. Kittens do not need cat milk added to their diet to stay healthy as this is just extra calories that’ll make them put on a lot of weight.
Again, you should not give your kitten cow’s milk or any sort of human milk substitute as you could make them really poorly.
How much your cat drinks will depend on their age, size, diet and any health conditions. For example, a cat who prefers dry food may need to drink more than a cat on wet food as wet food is around 90% water. If you notice your cat suddenly drinking more or less than usual, you should take them to the vet to get checked.
There are a few things you can do to encourage your cat to drink more: