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Find out about what cats drink, what kittens drink and more in our handy guide.

Don’t cats hate water?

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.

What do cats drink?

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).

Do cats drink milk?

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.

What do kittens drink?

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 should my cat be drinking?

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:

  • use a wide bowl as cats like to drink without anything touching their whiskers
  • use a ceramic, metal or glass bowl as plastic can taint the water and put your cat off drinking
  • make sure their water is away from their food and litter tray. You can find out more about creating the perfect environment for your cat in our guides
  • give them more than one bowl of water, in different places
  • some cats prefer moving water so you can get special bowls that keep it moving. Or you can turn a tap on for them (you might want to supervise them if they like drinking from taps)
  • offer them filtered water as some cats are sensitive to the chlorine in tap water
  • make sure your cat's shadow doesn't block their view of the surface of the water
  • if your cat likes drinking from your glasses of water, provide some 'cats only' glasses around the house - just make sure your cat can't knock the glass over
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