concerned neighbor: water for the cat
I have a question about leaving water out for my cat, and I was wondering if you guys had similar experiences.
I have been feeding my resident cat, named Friday -- I'll call her Fri for short from now on -- Weruva's chicken canned cat food for a couple of years. Prior to this, I was a newbie cat owner and had her on Friskies dried food. After her first checkup when she was deemed super overweight, I learned some stuff about cat nutrition and started feeding her the Weruva canned food on a schedule. She's since lost the extra weight and her lab results have come back excellent.
Now, on to the water question: Since getting Fri, she has NEVER drank water from a water bowl. I tried a wider bowl, different bowls, etc. She always would jump onto the bathroom counter whenever she wanted a sip. I'd turn on the faucet for as long as she needed, and then she'd hop off and go on her merry way. At one point, I tried out a Drinkwell pet fountain, and Fri took to that quite well. At this time, she was still on the dry food, so I did see her frequently drinking from the fountain. After switching her to Weruva, which has a really high water content, I never once saw her go near the fountain. I'm home a lot since I'm a student, and I keep odd hours (again, since I'm a student...sigh...), so I figured that she just got enough water from her food. And, being a mostly indoors cat (i.e., outdoors only on nice days when I'm also outside to watch) who sleeps all day (she's practically a piece of furniture), I figured that it would be fine if I unplugged the fountain and trusted that she would jump on the countertop if she wanted a sip of water. As a result, this meant that there wasn't a water dish out for her to freely drink from.
My reasoning was that 1) she wasn't going to drink from a water bowl, at least not from what I've seen, and 2) leaving the fountain out like that can't be good for her either, since the fountain accumulates this weird film on the edges pretty quickly (it's clear, I only notice it when I'm cleaning it and have to touch it), requires regular charcoal filter replacements, and has just been a magnet for dirt and cat hair and all of that. I'd rather her ask for a drink from the faucet than drink *that.*
This has been going on for a couple of years. Even without the fountain, Fri has never asked me for water. She's since had two, maybe three, checkups with labs done, and they've all come back excellent.
My neighbor catsat for me once and was really surprised to learn that I don't leave water out for my cat. She was just surprised then, but a recent incident caused her a lot of concern: Sometimes I let my cat out while I'm out in the backyard doing something (like taking out the trash and recycling, laundry, etc.). She never strays far, so I usually just check on her every fifteen minutes or so. A couple months back (I think?) she actually got into the upstairs neighbor's apartment and (without my knowledge) ate a bunch of her dog's dry kibble while they were out. When I called her back (i.e., when she hears the sound of a can opening or a bag of treats getting shaken, hehehe), I noticed she was lethargic and tense for the rest of the night, and was asking me for water from the faucet (for the first time in years!). I only found out the dog kibble thing after she vomited it up (...which was AFTER the prompt vet visit...how timely).
I asked this same neighbor to take me to the vet because I don't drive, and she the not-leaving-water-out thing came to the forefront again. I thought that maybe my cat was undergoing kidney failure, since she was around 10 at the time and I knew to watch out for excessive water consumption. Tests came back excellent; everything was great, just dehydrated. I thought it odd, came home, gave her some water in a bowl (which she drank!!! she must've been really thirsty), and hours later she puked up the kibble. At that point I rolled my eyes at her shenanigans and laughed it off.
Today, this neighbor confronted me about the water again because I had been fostering a kitten and she was concerned that I was doing the same for the kitten. (I wasn't---the kitten eats dry kitten food and regularly laps up water! I definitely leave a dish out for her.) She said she had called several vets (anonymously) and asked about the practice of not leaving water out. She was very concerned for my cats and wasn't interested in hearing out my justifications for doing what I did. I was wondering if any of you have had similar experiences---or was I really just totally in the wrong for not leaving water out? I've started to leave water out since the dog kibble incident, but I honestly think that had she not asked for faucet water several times, I never would've suspected anything was wrong in the first place--in some sense, I appreciated that this was a way for me to check on her water consumption as well.
I would really appreciate your thoughts on this, since my neighbor's comments have left me quite distraught.
Thanks very much.