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Can Cats Drink Distilled Water? What You Need to Know!

If you’re concerned about the quality of your tap water, you may be concerned about drinking this yourself or offering it to your cat. Distilled water is an alternative to tap water, but can cats drink distilled water and is it safe for cats?

Let’s find out!

First of all, distilled water is not recommended for cats to drink.

cat face divider 2Types of Water

Yes, there are different types of water! In this article, we’ll focus on distilled water, but these are the main types of water available.

Types of water:
  • Tap water. This type of water is usually stored in reservoirs and is made up of mostly rain water. Before it’s piped into the main system, it will be filtered and treated with a range of chemicals, including chlorine and sometimes fluoride, depending on where you live.
  • Spring and well water. These sources come from aquifers under the earth’s surface, as well as from ice melt and rainwater. If you get spring or well water straight from the source, then it’s natural and untreated. You can sometimes get bottled spring water, which will have been filtered. The mineral analysis for spring water can vary, depending on the location of the spring.
  • Bottled water. Studies have found that 25% of bottled water is often simply tap water that’s been filtered to remove impurities. The mineral analysis will depend on the water used and the company producing it.
  • Distilled water. This water is created by capturing the steam as regular water is boiled. The steam is captured in sterile conditions and condenses into distilled water as it cools. This removes impurities, minerals, and electrolytes.
Cat sniffs filters for water purification_Natalya Chumak_shutterstock
Credit: ImageParty, Shutterstock

Distilled water pH

Distilled water has a pH of under 7, making it acidic. Your cat’s body is designed to function in an alkaline state. Distilled water can lower your cat’s pH into the acidic scale, raising the risk of them developing a urinary tract infection or urinary stones.

Because distilled water doesn’t contain any minerals, it can actually leach minerals from your cat’s system. This has to do with a process called osmosis, where solutes in water like potassium and sodium will diffuse from an area of high concentration to one with lower concentration until they’re roughly equal.

Your cat’s body needs potassium and sodium to function correctly. If your cat drinks distilled water, as it travels through your cat’s intestines, it will remove potassium and sodium, potentially leading to a deficiency if you’re offering this water to your cat over a long period.

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Distilled water in an emergency

If you have absolutely no other option than offering your cat distilled water to drink, then a small amount won’t do your cat any harm in the short term.

You might find information on the internet suggesting that distilled water is safe for both cats and humans to drink. But you’ll find that these sources are almost always from companies that produce distilled water themselves.

Distilled water for detoxing

Distilled water can be a popular product for humans to drink when they’re detoxing. Distilled water can leach molecules from the body, and these are then passed out with urine.

Sometimes, though, these are beneficial molecules like sodium and potassium, which your cat’s body needs to function correctly.

We would never recommend using distilled water to detox your cat’s system. Instead, consult with your veterinarian, who can guide you through their recommendations.

Credit: Arcaion, Pixabay

Re-mineralizing distilled water

The process of distillation removes all the minerals from water, including beneficial ones. It is possible to buy mineral drops to add into distilled water, replacing the lost minerals.

We found a few sites advocating the use of re-mineralized distilled water for cats, but we’re not sure what the point of this would be. You can achieve the same balance of beneficial minerals in water by using filtered tap water or good-quality bottled water.

Encouraging your cat to drink more water

If you’ve been considering offering your cat distilled water as a way to encourage them to drink more, then there are far better options.

Cats like drinking from moving water sources, so installing a water fountain is a good way to encourage them to drink more.

Cats don’t have a high thirst drive, and in the wild, they will get most of their hydration needs met through the food that they eat. If your cat only eats dry food, consider having them eat wet food as well. The higher moisture content will help hydrate your cat.

If your cat doesn’t seem to like the taste of your tap water, consider investing in a filter to remove some of the particulates and minerals that your cat might not like.

cat paw dividerWrapping it up

While distilled water might seem like a “pure” choice to offer your cat, it’s not a safe option as their only water source for a long time.

Distilled water can leach essential minerals from your cat’s body, leading to potential imbalances and even illnesses if they only drink distilled water.

It can also make their urine more acidic, increasing the risk of them developing urinary tract issues.

As an option in an emergency where you have no other water available, it’s fine, but make sure to switch back to your regular water as soon as possible.

Regular tap water or filtered tap water are the best options to keep your kitty hydrated and healthy.

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Featured Image: ExplorerBob, Pixabay