Welcome to our weekly 'Ask a Vet from the SF SPCA' feature on 7x7.com. Dr. Jeannine Berger, DVM, DACVB is a board certified veterinary behaviorist who counsels guardians whose pets’ issues are beyond the scope of training. Think of her as a pet shrink…at your service.
Q: My cat likes to drink tap water...Should I let her?
A: Certain cats seem to prefer tap water over a water bowl and a study suggests that cats drinking from a flowing water source might be drinking slightly more water than cats that drink from a regular bowl (Pachel et Neilson, 2010). It has also been tested and shown that cats prefer local tap water over purified water. Your adult average size cat (11 lbs) should drink about 250ml per day (44-66ml/kg/24hrs) and if you are concerned about your cat drinking too much or not enough water, you should measure her intake, which of course is difficult to do if she is drinking tap water.
However, the amount of water your cat drinks is dependent on many different factors: Activity level, temperature and type of food and frequency of feeding. Most cats seem to drink more water during day. The daily water intake of cats eating wet food was shown to be higher than for cats eating dry food; in addition the amount increases with increased meal frequency.
If you feel your cat drinks more water than usual or the drinking behavior of your cats has changed, you should always make an appointment with your veterinarian and have her checked out. Common medical conditions can affect your cat's drinking habits. If your cat proves to be healthy, she might just have a preference for a flowing water source and you could exchange your water bowl for a commercially available continuously flowing water fountain. For many cats this is a great form if environmental enrichment.