Have you noticed your cat doesn’t visit her water bowl too often? Don’t worry – it’s normal for a feline. But you still have to make sure she stays properly hydrated.

If your cat never seems to drink much water, don’t be too concerned. She’s not sick. Most cats have a relatively low thirst drive. It’s because their wild ancestors once lived in desert environments, where water was scarce and the only available moisture came from the bodies of prey animals.

So is it possible for cats to get dehydrated? Yes, especially if they live solely on poor quality dry foods. Unlike fresh raw meat, cheap kibbled diets contain minimal amounts of moisture, are too low in meat protein and too high in grains. They also contain harmful additives such as artificial colors and preservatives. Cats that eat nothing but low end dry foods usually don’t drink enough water to offset the lack of moisture in their diets, and that can lead to dehydration and urinary tract problems, including kidney disease.

The solution is to add moisture to your cat’s diet. If your kitty prefers dry food, and many do, make sure he’s getting a premium meat-based product that’s very low in grains and contains no synthetic additives. Try mixing some warm water into the food to make “gravy”, or use some fluid from a tin of fish, such as wild salmon. You can also try introducing some high quality canned food or raw meat to your cat’s menu. Do it gradually, though, to avoid digestive upsets.

If your cat is already eating a premium canned food, or a frozen raw or home prepared diet, she’s probably already getting sufficient moisture. Either way, always make sure she has fresh pure water available 24/7. Don’t let the water sit for days – cats are fussy, and she’ll be even less likely to drink if it’s stagnant. As well, water that sits too long will form algae and that makes it even less appealing to the cat. Remember to wash out the bowl each time you put fresh water in it.

Take a look as well as the shape and size of your cat’s water bowl. Cats don’t like it when their whiskers touch the sides of a dish. Your kitty might be more likely to drink from a wide shallow water dish. It’s also a good idea to have two or more water stations throughout the house, perhaps one on each floor. This is especially wise in a multicat household, or if your cat is older and less mobile.

A lot of cats are attracted to moving water. That’s why they like to dabble in the toilet or jump on the sink when the tap is running. Moving water is also aerated water, and that makes it more palatable to many animals. Consider investing in an animal water fountain that provides a continuous stream of moving water.

Cats can be finicky and don’t like change, so you may need to try several different tactics to encourage your kitty to consume more water and stay hydrated. Be patient and vigilant, and you can easily prevent dehydration and protect her health.