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I haven't seen my kitten-cats drinking much water lately. While they get hydration from their wet food, I'm not sure if it's necessarily enough for optimal health.

I'm considering just adding a bit of tap water to their wet food to make it a tad more wet, but I'm not sure if that'd be helpful, or if it might cause the food to spoil too fast.

Questions:

  1. Should cats receive more hydration than from wet food alone?

  2. Could it be beneficial to add additional water to wet food?

  3. If additional water might be beneficial, how should it be added?

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While you've listed off three questions about adding hydration, the first question you should be asking is:

Is my cat dehydrated?

It's very easy to check this yourself at home by using a pinch test. As described by PetMD:

If you take a pinch of skin over the cat's shoulders and pull up gently, the skin should snap back into place when released. As the cat gets more dehydrated, the skin goes back in place more and more slowly. If the pinch of skin stays up (the "tent"), it is a sign of severe dehydration. The cat should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Source

Should a cat receive hydration from only wet food?

No. While cats are designed to get most of their water from food, you should always provide clean, fresh water for them as well; you may find a benefit to trying different types of bowls or fountains to increase the appeal.

Is there a benefit to adding water to wet food?

Yes, if your cat regularly suffers issues with dehydration, adding water to their wet food can help keep them more hydrated. I've seen this used (on veterinarians' orders) with a cat with chronic urinary crystals to help flush them out before they became large enough to cause problems. For most cats, there won't be much need to do this, however. Your vet can offer more input on your specific cat's case.

How to add the water?

Just mix it into the canned food. This tends to work best with "pate" style foods, making them into a thinner mush or even a "soup," and not as well with shredded or "chunk" style foods. There's no need for any special "gravies," which provide very little benefit for their price, and may very likely contain extra ingredients that are not ideal for cats to eat.

Will it spoil faster?

No faster than wet food on its own will. They should be eating it promptly; you should not be leaving it out for long periods, with or without added water.

Is it necessary?

If your cats are already getting sufficient hydration, then it's not going to provide much if any benefit to add even more water to their diets. Just because you aren't seeing them drink water, that doesn't mean they aren't drinking it. Start by checking whether they're at all dehydrated, and consult with your veterinarian if you have concerns about their hydration levels.

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To answer your questions one by one.

  1. Cats need to have clean water in addition to the water contained in their food.

  2. Adding water to the wet food is not something you need to do. It can reduce the smell of the food and make your cat eat less (a cat's nose is better than its sense of taste).

  3. If you want you can add some water to the dry food you give your cat. But this too might make your cat eat less.

It is right of you to keep an eye on the amount of water your cat drinks. Many cats do drink too little but it sounds like your cats get the water they need.

I want to add it is not possible to see how well hydrated a cat by looking at the solid waste it produces. It is normal for most cats to pee 1-2 times a day (if it is only once a day it should be a generous amount each time).

One tip to get your cat to drink more is to put the food and water in separate places (in nature cats do not eat and drink at the same spot this is due to the fact that meat attracts other predators so a cat might be vulnerable while drinking).

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As to question 3:

Do not feed gravy or other seasoned foods to your cat.

Cats do not eat any salt or spice naturally. Especially salt can increase the risk for urinary diseases, which cats are prone to anyways. If you want to add liquid to pet food, always use plain water.

  • 1
    That's a good point about avoiding spices found in gravies designed for humans. I'm thinking more along the lines of gravies designed for cats, such as the gravy that wet food alreay comes in, or a supplementary product like "Purina Fancy Feast Broths Adult Wet Cat Food Complement Variety Packs". – Nat Dec 25 '18 at 11:40
  • If your only concern is how much water your cats ingest, I would go for plain tap water and avoid processed products. These cat gravies contain substances like grain (for the texture), sugar (for the brown color) and certainly aromas or flavors that your cat doesn't need. The flavor trains cats to become finicky and picky so you always have to buy the expensive food brands. – Elmy Dec 25 '18 at 11:55
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Fresh water should always be available to dogs and cats at all times thus making it unnecessary to add water to the food. However, if you add water it isn't harmful. Food spoils when it's left at room temperature. Bacteria prefers room temperature, just as we do, therefore that's where it proliferates the most. To prevent food spoilage keep soft food refrigerated up until you're ready to serve it to your pet.

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