How do I get a cat to drink more water?

michelle_phxazNovember 1, 2009

I have an older Ragdoll, Frank, who is 11 years old, and he has always been a bit on the chunky side. I also have two female Ragdolls, 5 and 10 years old. Lately I can feel Frankie's backbone, and I know he has lost at least a pound. His interest in food has been lacking (NEVER a problem before!) and even the treat of junk food canned 9-Lives didn't entice him much. A year ago he would have finished off a whole can on his own, this time between the three of them only about 1/3 of the can was eaten.

All three of our Ragdolls eat Hills Prescription KD for kidney health, my middle cat (10 year old female) had kidney failure last year and came back with a vengeance after kidney stone surgery and a steady diet of the Hills canned and dry. The vet said that it was fine to have all three cats eat that same food, and for about 16 months now everything has been fine. I stopped the 9-Lives as a treat altogether way back then, so I figured maybe he was tired of his same ol'-same ol' diet and needed a treat last night to get him to eat more than he has been lately.

Frank's bowel movements are hard and dry, and I watched him pee last night and there wasn't much that came out.

I am taking him to the vet either tomorrow or as soon as I can get an appointment, but since he doesn't drink as much water as I would like to see, is there some flavoring that I can add to get him to drink more? I do have sub-q fluids and the whole setup if it comes to that, but I would obviously rather have him drink on his own.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

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Will he eat the canned food if you mix it with water? We have one cat that just loves having her food thinned out to a loose mush.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 6:11AM
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This may not be possible with a cat, but when my dog wasn't drinking water, I used a (needleless) syringe that my vet gave me. I put the tip in the side of her mouth and gently shot the water in.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 6:35AM
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I've heard some vets recommend the "fountain" water bowls for pets with kidney disease to encourage them to drink more water. When I was worried my boy cat was also developing crf, we bought one because he was the type that loved to drink out of the faucet- there are good ones available for under $30. Our girl with crf turns out to like the bowl pretty well and drinks quite a bit more water from that, even though she was never one to drink out of the faucet on a regular basis.

Before we had the bowl, I'd put the cat in the tub with the water turned on to a drip or slight trickle. Sometimes they enjoy that.

It sounds like Frank might be dehydrated enough to benefit from sub-qs. Best of luck at the vet's today.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 10:17AM
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My 4 year old male NEVER drinks water. He NEVER will drink out of bowl (I don't even put one out now) and he use to drink out of the faucet but doesn't even do that now.

So, I add 1 T of water to his wet twice a day. It's all I can do. You can lead a cat to water but you can't make him drink.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 10:48AM
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Thanks, I will try the suggestions. My appointment is Tuesday afternoon, so we will see what happens tonight.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 8:23PM
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I had one of those drinking fountains for cats. They thought it was fun at first but lost interest. It is a bit of a pain to take it apart every week to clean. My cats drank a lot more water when I had a fish bowl with a beta. The bowl held about 3/4 of a gallon and was about 12" tall. I had to place it in another bowl to keep cats from tipping it over, but they couldn't get their paws in bowl because it was too tall but able to get face in there to lick water if it was full enough. I always kept a gallon of water to refill to level for cats to drink (almost daily). It didn't seem to shorten fishes life, last one was about 3 years old before it died.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 8:52AM
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I have a huge ceramic dog bowl filled with water, and a water fountain. My cats love water fountain, and when I refill it, a bunch gather up waiting for me to bring it back with fresh water....

Lots of wet food and sourcream/plain yogurt might help as well

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 9:23AM
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One of our cats has urinary problems. He prefers sneak-drinking water from our cups, so I set mugs with water next to the food dish.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 9:29AM
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Add my kitty to the will-not-drink-from-water-dish list.

He'll drink from our glasses or the faucet. That's it. Like petaloid we now leave out 'decoy' water glasses for the kitty to drink.

We also tried the fountain, but my kitty enjoyed splashing in it with his feet as much as drinking. After a few months I got very tired of scrubbing the whole thing out every other day. Otherwise it was great :)

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 6:54PM
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A word about those fountains... some are much easier to clean than others. I researched quite a bit before buying. If the company made a cleaning kit for it, then I figured it was probably a pain to clean. The one we have is very quick and easy to clean- not like a regular water bowl, but probably 5 minutes once a week.

A few months back we decided to try growing the hydroponic wheat grass modules they make in ours. The water polluted daily with those, it was very yucky. Ours sometimes "wash" their paws in the bowl, which means cleaning more often. Ours definitely enjoy it and get enough benefit that it's worth the minimal trouble to me.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 7:05PM
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Okay, back from the vet, he was dehydrated slightly so I brought home sub-q fluids to give to him for the next week. His upper bowels are inflamed, and his lower bowels have hard fecal matter in them.

They did a blood and urine test and the results should be in tomorrow or Thursday.

Frank does like to like the shower stall after we shower, so I am going to make sure it is wet all the time, our other two cats also think it is a treat to drink water out of a small ceramic bowl left on the ottoman, so I will continue that more often.

Down here in Phoenix it is SO easy to get dehydrated as a human, and even though they are indoor cats and we still have the AC running (yes, I KNOW it is November!) and it is very dry. I filled up all our humidifiers last night for the winter season, so that should help too.

Thank you ALL so much for your help, I will post with Frank's results when I hear from the vet.

Furbaby hugs and sandpaper kisses from Frank,

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 9:19PM
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I had one of the cat fountains for a while but it was a pain to clean and the filters were expensive. I am also leery of plastic growing germs over the long haul. Since my diva cat won't drink from a regular bowl I got a ceramic dog dish, a cheap aquarium pump, some plastic tubing and an airstone (for aquariums). Connect the tubing to the pump and the airstone and put it in the water. Gentle bubbles that the diva loves. Best of all you take the bowl, dump it out and put it in the dishwasher. Every few months replace the airstone - about $.50 - so it doesn't get gooky. Cheap, easy and a happy cat.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 12:20PM
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I got Frank's test results back, his urine is perfect but his blood has a low white cell count. The inflammation could be just a minor bowel infection which can be treated with meds or cancer, she wanted to be honest about the spectrum of possibilities.

I gave him about 100cc of fluid sub-subcutaneously today so he is hydrated.

I made an appointment for him to go to the animal hospital Friday morning for an ultrasound, it is the only way to see exactly what is causing the inflammation. (Ragdolls are really fluffy and he has a very fuzzy belly, he will be bald on Friday! Poor guy.) He ate lots of chicken tonight, and lots of Whisker Lickin's (usually he only gets two or three, today he has had about 15) so I know he is interested in eating, just not canned cat food.

His energy is a bit low but he still has his feisty play in him so we had a chat. I explained to him that I want him on this earth as long as he wants to be here, if he feels it is his time to go I will respect that too. I couldn't tell if he was looking at me like he was hearing me or that he thought I was crazy, but I hope the message got through. I love this little beast with all my heart.

Please think happy, healthy thoughts and have your pets send good thoughts and prayers his way too. I am not a religious person, I pray to my loved ones that have passed on, so Frank has a lot of good people and energy coming his way.

Thank you all for your support, I will post back Friday.

Furbaby hugs and sandpaper kisses,
Michelle and Frankie

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 4:20AM
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Frank, being the cat he is, came back with results that are on the fence between a bowel infection or cancer. Neither a colon- or an endoscopy will get to the problem area, so Friday he had exploratory surgery, we should have the results on Wednesday.

It is a heartbreaking wait, Frankie isn't eating anything, but I am giving him sub-q fluids. I just want my sweet, fluffy, personality-laden boy back.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 7:13PM
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(((Frank))) (((Michelle)))

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 12:56PM
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So sorry about poor Frankie. If he is not eating, did you ask your vet about force feeding him? Its not a fun thing to do, but not eating can cause its own life threatining complications.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 4:23PM
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Thinking about you and Frankie and hoping for the best. (((HUGS)))

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 8:11PM
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HOORAY!!!!!!!!! Got the results today, it is irritable bowel syndrome, and with a change of diet and one pill a day he will be just fine.

Thank you ALL for your support and help, we have no human children so when one of our cats is hurt it is, to us, like a human child being sick or hurt. I will sleep so very soundly tonight, especially since Frank can now get his old bed back on the couch and Jim and I can finally have our bed back. You would think that he was a St. Bernard by the way he took over the bed!

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 10:40PM
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So glad to hear things are looking up. My cat is my child too. She weighs 6 lbs and manages to hog the middle of the bed every night. When I adopted her my plan was to not have her sleep in the bed but by the time I got my teeth brushed that first night she was under the covers snoring. So much for my plans. She is a good heating pad, though.

Best to you and your kitty.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 12:19PM
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