Wednesday, 4th July 2012
John Owens graduated from the Veterinary
College U.C.D. in 1997. He, along with his wife Susan, recently opened Ani-Pets veterinary clinic in Tramore, which is
dedicated to the full time care of all companion
animals, including exotic pets. He has a special
interest in preventative medicine and nutrition.
Does my cat have a drinking problem?!
"My cat spends the vast majority of his time indoors, which is not a problem as he is trained to use a litter tray and appears to have no great interest in venturing outside. The problem I have is that he would rather drink water from the toilet or bathroom sink than from his water bowl. I am worried that if I prevent him from accessing these sources of water, he will not drink enough. Also, he has been vomiting recently, and I think it could be caused by ingesting chemicals from cleaning products used in the sink and toilet. Have you any advice?”
In my experience as a practicing vet, it is not unusual for domestic cats to spend the vast majority, if not all, of their time inside the house. When they are neutered and have all their needs, e.g. food, shelter, company etc., met, many may have little or no interest in the outside world. Often in situations where owners have had a bad experience with allowing a pet cat roam freely outdoors, such as a road traffic accident or an attack by other animals, they may choose to keep their cat exclusively indoors from a safety point of view.
As regards water intake, many cats drink quite small volumes of water, especially if indoors and relatively inactive compared to outdoor cats. Some cats have a high capacity for surviving well with low water intake, which is believed to be adapted behaviour inherited from their ancestors who lived in the desert, and their kidneys can concentrate their urine, conserving water.
The water content of the cat's food can vary greatly, from as low as 8% in dry food to over 80% in canned/wet food, which affects the amount of drinking water needed. For example, if a cat is eating "wet” food only, they can get 90% of the water they need from it and only need to drink 10%. The situation is reversed if the diet is only dry food.
It is thought that cats may naturally hunt for food and water separately depending on whether they are hungry or thirsty, so providing at least two water bowls in a variety of locations away from where the food bowl is could encourage your cat to drink from them. Some cats prefer to drink moving water than from a bowl or dish, and drinking fountains are commercially available that have been successful in boosting water consumption.
Cleaning the bowls and replenishing with fresh water on a daily basis is important with indoor cats as they can be very fussy. Also, situating litter trays in a different location to the water bowls can help.
In relation to the vomiting problem, it could be caused by gastric irritation if he has been ingesting chemicals from the water in the toilet. Vomiting can be a symptom of many disease processes, many of which do not even originate in the digestive tract, for example, kidney or liver disease. A consultation with your vet could be helpful in determining the cause if this is an ongoing problem.
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