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Can Cats Drink Tap Water? Is It Healthy For Them?

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	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As humans, we have so many options when it comes to what to drink each day. Coffee for breakfast (or all day), juice, soda, milk, or even adult beverages are all on the menu. Cats, however, generally only get one drink choice: water.

Even water comes with options, though, and cat owners may wonder which is best for their beloved pet. For example, can cats drink tap water? Cats can typically drink any plain water that’s safe for humans, including tap water.

In this article, we’ll discuss why drinking tap water is safe for your cat and the importance of adequate hydration for your cat’s health. We’ll also give you some tips on increasing your cat’s water intake.

divider-catclaw1Why Tap Water Is Safe For Cats

All tap water consumed by humans must be treated and filtered to ensure it is safe. This process is designed to remove impurities, chemicals, or dangerous bacteria that could be present in the water. In the U.S., The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets and enforces safety standards for tap water.

Tap water that is safe for humans is also safe for cats and even contains beneficial minerals. Some people prefer to further filter their tap water with a home system, increasing its purity and safety level.

While many people may believe that bottled water is safer and healthier than tap water, that’s not necessarily the case. Bottled water and tap water are both held to similar safety standards. In fact, some of the most well-known bottled water brands are just tap water, slightly more purified.

blue tabby maine coon cat playing with water
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

How Much Water Should a Cat Drink?

Cats should drink about 3.5-4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight each day. So, a 10-pound cat would need between 7-9 ounces, or right around 1 cup of water daily. Cats who don’t drink enough water may become dehydrated, especially if they are also suffering from other medical conditions like diarrhea or a fever.

In the wild, cats get most of their water from their food, but the dry kibble eaten by most house cats doesn’t provide enough moisture to keep them hydrated. Because their ancestral wild cats didn’t need to drink much water, domestic cats have less drive to drink than dogs. Those with any underlying health concerns may need to change to wet food or water additives to encourage adequate water intake.

Not drinking enough water contributes heavily to feline urinary problems like bladder stones, infections, and cystitis. Cat owners, especially those whose cats suffer from these issues, may need to take steps to increase their cat’s water intake. We’ll talk about some of those steps next.

Tips To Increase Your Cat’s Water Intake

Switch To Canned Food

One simple step you can take to increase your cat’s water intake is to switch them from dry to canned food. Your vet can help you choose a quality option. You may need to try several different textures to find one your cat enjoys.

Make any food change gradually to avoid upsetting your cat’s stomach. If your cat refuses to eat the new food, don’t push them. Not eating, even for just a few days, puts your cat at risk of developing a life-threatening condition called hepatic lipidosis.

cat eating
Image Credit: kalachairina, Pixabay

Add Water To Dry Food

If your cat doesn’t like canned food (or it doesn’t fit into your budget!) another option is to add water to their dry food. Because some cats can be picky about their food texture, start by adding a small amount of water and gradually increase to allow the kitty time to adjust to the moistened kibble.

Use Multiple Water Bowls

Place multiple water bowls around the house so your cat always has a convenient water source. Putting a water bowl next to the food bowl may seem sensible but actually cats prefer the water bowl to be away from their food bowl and litter tray. Try different sizes, shapes, and materials of water bowls to see if your cat prefers one in particular. Often cats will even enjoy drinking from a glass on your bedside table!

cat drinks water
Image Credit: AltamashUrooj, Shutterstock

Try a Cat Water Fountain

Many cats enjoy drinking moving water so you could try letting a faucet drip, although this is not the most eco-conscious option. A better choice might be to purchase a cat water fountain. Make sure the fountain and filter are cleaned regularly.

Flavor The Water

Adding a bit of flavor to some of your cat’s water may help them drink more. Clam juice, tuna juice, or broth are all possible options. Make sure you check with your vet first to make sure it’s safe for your cat to drink these extras.  Cat safe broths and water additives are available.

Also, check the ingredients of any human broth you use to make sure it’s free of garlic and onions, which are toxic to cats. Many prepared broths are also very high in salt, which isn’t healthy for most cats. Just make sure they are managing to also ingest some regular, clean water as well during the day.


Water is essential for life, both human and feline. Luckily, you don’t have to spend extra just to keep your cat hydrated. Tap water is a safe option available right out of your own faucet. Along with eating a balanced diet, drinking enough water is key to maintaining your cat’s health. If you’re worried about your cat’s water intake, try some of the tips we discussed, and be sure to discuss your concerns with your veterinarian.

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Featured Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay