Cats need to drink water; its essential to keep them hydrated just like any other living animal. But a common question owners face is whether or not to provide their cat with tap water. Is this considered safe, and is it something you can look to do? I spent some time looking into it to find out exactly what you can do.
So, can cats drink tap water? Cats can usually drink tap water, although filtered or bottled natural mineral water are considered better options. Filtered water removes chlorine and other chemical elements which some cats are especially sensitive to. Better yet is providing water from a reverse osmosis (R.O.) system as these successfully remove almost every additive and contaminant that water softeners are unable to.
What you ultimately decide to do will depend on many factors, including where you live and your local water supply.
It also depends largely on your finances; providing bottled water or investing in a reverse osmosis water system does not typically come cheap.
That being said, just as you would want to do for your family, ensuring your cat has the highest quality water is something you should be looking to, as much as you can.
Besides, an average cat requires up to 200-250 ml of water to day to remain hydrated; and for their bodily functions to continue without issue.
Let us now take a closer look at tap water and the different types to consider. We also look at some of the other similarly related questions that you may have and will want to consider.
Is Tap Water Okay For Cats?
In most circumstances, giving your cat water straight from the tap should not do any harm.
Besides, tap water is closely regulated and is carefully treated to ensure it is safe for consumption.
That being said, it is important to consider that there are generally two different types of tap water; soft and hard.
- Soft water; is generally higher in sodium, or salt.
- Hard water; is mostly higher in calcium, magnesium, but also contains iron.
So, the hardness of water refers to the concentrations of minerals in the water.
In other words, the more calcium and magnesium in the water, the harder it is.
Some experts state that hard water does not tend to cause issues for pets, including cats.
However, there is this study to consider; which found a correlation between hard water consumption and urinary conditions, particularly in cats.
Here is an interesting quote from the study:
Overall, we have high claim payout amounts for pet urinary health issues in regions with higher hard water ratings such as Florida, Illinois, parts of Texas and MichiganTrupanion – Pet Medical Insurance Study – 2016
And then there is this one:
Once we identified the “extremely hard water” areas and compared it to our urinary health claims in those regions, we saw a significantly higher risk of pets running into urinary health issues.Trupanion – Pet Medical Insurance Study – 2016
So, from this evidence, it does look like hard water is not ideal and should be avoided if possible.
Remember that this is just one study, of a specific sample size. But it is worthy of your consideration, especially if your cat has any urinary health issues.
Of course, it depends where you live, how ‘hard the water is’ and how it is treated.
Nevertheless, most vets will agree that untreated water should never be offered.
Untreated water will include chemicals such as chlorine, fluoride and other potentially harmful additives that will not do your cat any good.
But what about soft water?
Soft water has a lot of the hard minerals (calcium and magnesium)removed through a process that replaces them with sodium ions.
Either your local water company may do this, or you may even have a water softener installed in your home.
Either way, the harder the water is to begin with, the more sodium that will be required to displace it and the more that will be found in the water once the process is complete.
It is generally considered safe for most cats, although it may be an issue for others.
For instance, if your cat needs to consume a low-sodium diet, on request of your vet, then you’ll need to be careful with soft water.
Equally, some cats will not like the taste of soft water, and may chose not to drink it altogether. This can lead to issues with dehydration if they avoid it for too long.
So you may need to consider other means of getting your cat to drink water.
Besides, water softeners do not remove out any contaminants; chloride and other additives are still going to remain.
Of course, whether or not you choose to provide hard or soft water is ultimately down to availability and preference, along with the health status of your cat.
But generally, both soft and hard tap water are not considered ideal.
The question then you may ask is; what are the better options?
Generally, bottled natural mineral water and water that has gone through a process known as reverse osmosis are preferred.
We will look at these in the following sections.
But before we do, let us quickly take a look at distilled water; could this be the solution?!
Is It Safe For Cats To Drink Distilled Water?
It is not generally advised to offer distilled water to your cat. This is because distilled water is acidic; with a PH of around 5.8, and is lower than the recommended 6.3-6.6 that cat urine should be and is advised by vets.
If a cat were to drink primarily distilled water, over time their urines PH level would naturally reduce, and enter a more acidic range.
PetMD cites the dangers this can bring; with the main one being the formation of stones and crystals in the bladder.
These cannot be dissolved through diet alone and will require surgery.
Beyond this, distilled water is created through boiling water and capturing the steam. This steam then condenses into what we know as distilled water. While this process does remove impurities it also removes important minerals and electrolytes.
Your cat needs certain minerals to thrive; and without being able to obtain them through water, is more likely to encounter a deficiency.
Bottom line. Avoid offering distilled water.
What Is The Best Water To Give Your Cat?
The best water to give your cat will be either filtered tap water, bottled mineral water, and water put through a reverse osmosis system.
Let us now take a closer look at each one:
Filtered Tap Water
Filtering your tap water is one of the best ways to prepare it for consumption, either for yourself, your family or your cat.
There are generally two ways you can do this:
- Purchasing a water pitcher dispenser and jug – like this best seller on Amazon. This is one of the most cost effective, easy and simple to use approaches
- Installing an under sink filter system; that attaches to your pipes and cleans the tap water as it comes through. This is a great affordable option on Amazon.
Either way, these filters do a great job of removing heavy metals such as lead, copper, arsenal, chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride and elements such as limescale from the water.
This is in essence, your own form of treatment.
Bottled Mineral Water
Over the long term, this is the most expensive option.
Its also not ideal for the environment as you’re going to regularly need to buy more and will get through quite a bit of plastic.
At least it can be recycled!
Nevertheless, mineral water has to go through rigorous testing to ensure it is is free from pollution.
The mineral analysis for this kind of water can vary, depending on the location it was bottled.
Reverse Osmosis (R.O.) System Water
This is the most expensive option, but perhaps the best type of water to offer your cat (and your family), long-term.
There are many cited benefits of reverse osmosis water, the main ones being:
- Very effective at removing contaminants,
- Reduces sodium from soft water
- Its better for cooking and the resulting taste of food,
- It tastes better to drink, and your cat will be more willing to drink it.
There are many different reverse osmosis water systems on the market; each of are different quality.
The one below is one of the top reviewed currently available:
- WATER SAVING SMART TECHNOLOGY: This patented technology eliminates back pressure to make the Circle up to 10 times more efficient than traditional RO systems, saving water and money. In addition, Brondell Circle’s 6L tank refills fully in under one hour.
- COMPACT DESIGN: The reservoir and water filters are contained in a sleek case taking up less space under your sink. The twist and seal filters in this non-electric design make filter replacement a breeze. No pumps or electricity required!
- DESIGNER FAUCET: This elegant, chrome kitchen faucet is the embodiment of quality and efficiency. The integrated LED filter change indicator conveniently reminds you when to replace your filters.
- FOUR-STAGE FILTRATION: The Circle reverse osmosis water filter system utilizes 4 separate advanced water filters, dramatically reducing industrial and harmful chemicals. The patented Smart Valve & flexible water tank delivers maximum water efficiency
- WATER QUALITY ASSOCIATION CERTIFICATION: Our water filtration systems are tested & certified by the WQA, ensuring that you can trust in performance claims; The Circle meets NSF/ANSI standards 42, 53, 58, & 372; Certified for PFAS reduction, PFOA, PFOS
Where Should I Put My Cats Water?
A cats water bowl, or fountain, should be placed in a quiet, easily accessible place. Cats should have the ability to drink water at all times, so it makes sense to place multiple water sources throughout your home too.
From there, you are going to want to ensure that your cats water cannot be drunk by another pet, or is in a place that has too many distractions such as your kitchen or the hallway.
It also comes advised that your cats water bowl is not next to their food, or more importantly their litter tray!
Cats are clean animals and lets be honest; not even our pet wants to do these two things in the same place!
From your own perspective, it also makes sense that you place the bowls on a surface that is easy to clean – just in case of spillage! This could be on top of a matt or on a specific type of flooring, such as laminate.
Keep all water bowls on the floor so that your cat does not need to jump or climb to be able to drink.
Cats can generally drink tap water; although there are certainly several factors you will want to consider.
It depends mostly on your local water supply and the health status of your cat. This is why it comes strongly advised to investigate into your local water authority.
Find out what type of water is provided, is it hard, is it soft? Ask how it is treated and what they do to prepare it.
From there you can always discuss your options with your vet as to whether it is suitable for your cat.
Nevertheless, and in the meantime, there are other better options than tap water to consider.
Perhaps the best, yet most expensive, is a reverse osmosis system.
If you cannot afford this, do definitely consider installing your own filtering system (whether under your sink) or through the use of a filtering jug.
Both are great options.
You, your family, and your cat will soon notice the difference.
Not just in taste, but how you all respond and generally feel following its consumption.
This is, without doubt, one of the best investments you could look to make.
Besides, water is the only real liquid a cat should drink.
And you need to make sure you leave enough of it out for them. Including at night!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.