Throughout its life and especially as cats age, it is important that your cat stay well hydrated. Offering fresh water and feeding fresh and canned foods will help avoid dehydration and will encourage a healthy urinary system.
Ways of getting more moisture into your cat are:
- Canned food or a balanced raw food diet
- Cooked chicken or turkey breast with broth
- Low fat plain yogurt
- Organ meats such as heart, liver or kidneys given on occasion
- Gizzards given on occasion
- Steamed vegetables such as squash or broccoli. Grinding helps break down cellulose and make them more digestible.
- Encouraging water consumption.
To encourage your cat to drink more water, provide plenty of cool fresh water at all times and drinking stations through out the house and outside. Many like to drink fresh running water and there are several different types of water fountains for cats on the market. Some can be suspicious of new things; so make sure you know they are drinking out of the fountain before removing the other water bowls. Filtered or spring water is a good idea to use as it may taste fresher. Do not use distilled water as it may actually flush needed minerals out of the body.
When possible, cater to your cats wishes for drinking (except out of the toilet.) Try different types of bowls; some prefer a really wide bowl or have a preference for glass, ceramic or stainless steel. Many will appreciate their own glass of water on the night table. (Use caution and/or plastic cups, as some cats have been known to knock over the glass in the middle of the night!)
One friend got her cat to drink more by floating his favorite treats in the water bowl. Another puts a few inches of clean water in her bathroom sink every morning. Think out of the bowl and provide your cat with plenty of opportunities to get more fluids!
Adding warm water or broth to your cat’s food is another good idea. Low sodium beef, chicken, vegetable broth or tuna water can be offered to supplement your cat’s fresh water. If you want to serve your cat low sodium soup, read the list of ingredients carefully, and do not serve it if the soup contains onion powder as this can harm red blood cells and can cause illness or even death.
At some point, your vet may recommend giving subcutaneous (SC) injections of sterile saline solution under the skin to support hydration and keep the kidneys flushed. Low potassium levels can be an issue and some vets will add potassium to the fluid bag for additional benefit. Vitamin B may also be added in case the cat may be deficient in this vitamin (due to poor appetite) and to help stimulate appetite. A trained veterinary technician can show you how to administer the fluids if you chose to do this at home.