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Hi there!

I have a question about leaving water out for my cat, and I was wondering if any of you had advise or had done anything similar. I posted this same question in my introductions thread, but thought to repost here (if that's OK with you, mods?) since the topic was more germane to this forum.

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 Fri back, 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).

So, here I am with this cat that's acting lethargic and suddenly drinking a lot more water. I didn't know about the kibble yet, so I got worried about kidney failure since my cat's getting up there age-wise. I asked the same catsitting neighbor to take me to the vet because I don't drive, and the not-leaving-water-out thing came to the forefront again. However, tests came back excellent; everything was great, she was just a little 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 told her that I had been fostering a kitten and she was concerned that I was doing the same with water for the kitten. (I wasn't and am not---the kitten eats dry kitten food [organization's recommendation, not mine***] and regularly laps up water! So, I definitely leave a dish out for her.) The neighbor said she had called several vets anonymously and asked about the practice of not leaving water out. She was very concerned for my cats, even said that it made her _angry_, and wasn't interested in hearing out my justifications or backstory. I was wondering if any of you have had done anything similar---or was I really just totally crazy for not leaving water out? I've started to leave water out since the dog kibble incident because Fri drank from a water bowl that time (so I know now that she's not completely averse to them), 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. I'm sorry for the super long post.

Thanks very much in advance. I've always found the threads on catforums very helpful; prior to posting, I read several previous threads on cats rarely drinking water, if at all, and was looking for information about whether people still left water out even if their cats were staunch faucet-drinkers like mine.

C
 

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I would leave water out or the fountain, sounds like your cat likes moving water the best, so I'd probably go with the fountain. We have 4 cats and we have a fountain, also a large bowl of water in the house and large bowl in back yard for them.
 

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Why not leave a bowl of water out, just in case? I think it's important that water is always available even if the cat isn't always drinking it.

Both of my cats are on canned food and don't drink a ton of water, but I leave a bowl out anyway, just in case they want it. I have a friend with 3 cats, 2 of which will only drink running water from the sink. She leaves a bowl of water out for the non-sink drinker and also leaves her bathroom sink dripping ever so slightly. Of course this is only doable if you don't have to pay for your water!
 

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I would leave a bowl of water out. Show Friday where it is and tap the side of the bowl so she sees the water moving. Do that for a few days and she may start using that bowl to drink from. Or she will at least know where it is if you aren't home and she wants a drink. Aniela26's idea about leaving the water dripping is also a good one. Friday's water preference might change as she ages and better to get something going now than risk dehydration.

Oscar is on wet food now but was on dry food for years. He has always been a water drinker since he was a kitten. He doesn't drink quite as much now but still likes his water. (All of his tests have been fine.) He has three bowls out and I clean them twice a day. I think that is better than the fountain with the worry about gunk building up.
 

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I would leave a water dish out also. My cats eat canned food and don't drink much water, but I still leave out a water dish and change the water every day so it's fresh.

Most cat's kidney function decreases when they get older, so it's good to have water available. You will be able to notice that her kidney function is decreasing when the clumps of litter (if you are using clumping) are now tennis ball size instead of golfball size. (The amount changes gradually so it may be hard to notice).
 

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What may have worked isn't necessarily the best practise... don't feel too bad, since many cats don't really drink much water when on canned food, but as cats get older they will require extra water. If the water fountain worked for you I would leave it out for your cat, cats are not big drinkers in general and can be dehydrated even with water left out so if you can entice your kitty to drink more that way, that's great.
 

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I feed all canned with some raw thrown in and I have a fountain just in case they want to drink.

It also came in handy when I suddenly went into the hospital in March. They missed their dinner (the ambulance came before dinner time) and I had to ask the apartment complex maintenance staff to feed them in the mornings but they don't get there until nine so they went 12 hours. The my mom didn't get there until about 9 that night so another 9 hours before their next meal. If I hadn't had a fountain down they would have had no access to water either.

You just never know what could happen. If something were to happen to you, they could get by for a few days without food if they had too. They would be seriously hurting fast without water.
 

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I too would leave a bowl of water out. With my cat I have a few bowls out at one time. One in the laundry room, one in his room/my office and one in the kitchen. I know for most this wouldn't be possible but you should at least have one bowl somewhere. Cats need water and even though yours may prefer running water, I'm sure if she's thirsty she will eventually drink from a bowl.
 

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I would also leave water out just in case. I have two dogs also, but I leave a water dish out in the kitchen and one in each bathroom upstairs. Mine don't drink much, but I do see all but one of them drinking on occasion. I also see them do things like go into the shower or bathtub and lick water, so I assume the one that I don't see drink at all does that or drinks when I don't see her. Yours may have been doing that or even drinking out of the toilet (I have seen this too, even with water out).
 

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I'm going to chime in with advice that you should always leave the water available, whether you think they're drinking or not.

To be honest, I can sympathize with your neighbour. The only reason you took the water up, from what I can tell, was because you were tired of the maintenance of the cat fountain - but it seems weird to just not go back to a bowl? Since your cat had access to the outdoors (and your neighbour's kibble) this should be a huge wake-up call that you need to provide water at all times. If Fri had had a bowl to drink from, maybe she wouldn't have been ill enough to warrant a vet visit.

I admit I'm not the most fastidious with Io's water bowl. I usually only clean it about twice a week, and top it up every few days (it's a very small stainless steel bowl, holds maybe 1/2 cup of water). I've never seen her drink from it, but I know she does because there's sometimes cat hair or bits of food in it.
 

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I have a big shallow ceramic bowl that's out all the time (I have a dog as well). Having said that, I NEVER see my cat drink .. ever. Well, once in 7 months anyways that I actually saw her lap. She is on full canned (and I add a little water to it as well) and never seems thirsty.
 

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My cats wouldn't drink out of their original little plastic bowls but now I use a large ceramic crock and I do see them drink out of it. I change the water 2-3 times a day because they usually watch me put fresh water in it and then run over to drink some when I set it down. Sometimes they drink from the faucet too. They also eat canned food and I add water to it and smoosh it up for them.

As for the fountain, I would keep it out and change the water in it every day. It shouldn't get filmy if you do that. Or at the very least keep a bowl out. If Friday has access to outdoors I'd put a bowl of water out there too. She may get hot and need a drink.
 

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We have 3 dogs and a cat so there are 3 bowls around the house. Tina prefers to drink out from the bathroom sink though.

Regardless of whether or not you think she drinks from the bowl, I would keep water available 24/7. You never know when you might not be able to come home at the usual time and Friday might get rather thirsty!
 

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Is there any way you can talk to the organization and get that poor kitten OFF of kibble?

A reasonable rescue/foster organization that actually cared about the welfare of the cats and kittens in its program should be open on the subject of NOT feeding dry food. They should at least be willing to listen to the reasons why kibble is absolutely terrible for cats :/

On the subject of water bowls, I've got a 14-year-old kitty that does have kidney issues. She is an indoor-outdoor kitty; she spends all day outside but gets locked in the garage at night. She has two water bowls in the garage, one in the backyard where she spends 99% of the day, one fountain in the garage, and one fountain in the backyard. I have never witnessed her drinking from ANY of these sources, but I change and clean them anyway.

My cat has, however, been witnessed drinking from the gutter often. ARGH. ;}

I used to have all the same fountain issues as you did, even with a stainless-steel fountain, until I switched to this kind -

Glacier Point Perfect Pet Fountain™ - The Pet Fountain Solution by Sierra BioScience

It is VERY expensive for a fountain, but I haven't had any scum/film/mold/etc issues like I did with my plastic and stainless-steel fountains.

In other words... yeah. There's no reason NOT to leave out at least one water bowl, unless you plan on leaving your faucet on all the time for Friday to drink from. Cats aren't human, and can't - and won't - always "ask" you for a drink when they're thirsty. Even though Friday's on canned food, she should always have fresh water available to her somewhere. You can mix in some extra water into her food if you're super-concerned, but leave a bowl or two of water out for her, or go back to using the fountain and just suck it up when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. It's annoying as heck, yeah, but if you've got irregular hours, your cat needs to have regularly-available water.
 

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Hi everyone,

Thank you for the thoughtful replies. I was really impressed with how many replies I got on my post, since I was worried initially that people would take one look at the size of my query and move on to the next thread!

That said, I mentioned in the last paragraph that since the July incident, I've been leaving water out for Friday. And, especially now with the kitten free-feeding dry kitten kibble, I have water out for both of them in case Friday gets into the kitten's food (which is more than likely since Friday will eat anything! :pig) So, no worries, there's water out now for sure.

As a result, I think what I was looking for wasn't whether I should be leaving water out, since the initial decision to not do so was a bit more complicated than I had let on in the post (but I wasn't going to bore everyone with the intricacies of that--mostly just other life details, like having a mostly stay-at-home partner at the time that was almost always around when I wasn't), but I wrote the post right after the conversation I had with my neighbor.

That conversation was pretty offputting, since instead of a firm suggestion to leave water out, I realized after thinking about it more that she was making judgments about my character as well. So, when I wrote the post, I think I was hoping to just get some reassurance that what I had done wasn't completely crazy and unthinkable, since she had more or less spoken to me in that way, as though I was a neglectful and abusive cat parent. That was just really injurious to me since I wouldn't knowingly do anything that I thought would be harmful to my cat.

It goes without saying that looking for reassurance from the internet probably isn't the most objective thing to do, since you're only going able to make judgments based on what I tell you. So, in some sense, it's not really fair to the other party as well. I did appreciate all of the advice and experiences you shared with me, though, and I am thankful I joined and took the time to post. In particular, I'll probably be taking the previous poster up on her Glacier Pet Fountain suggestion, since it looks like an awesome product.

Thanks again! I hope you all have a nice weekend. :)

C
 

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Is there any way you can talk to the organization and get that poor kitten OFF of kibble?

A reasonable rescue/foster organization that actually cared about the welfare of the cats and kittens in its program should be open on the subject of NOT feeding dry food. They should at least be willing to listen to the reasons why kibble is absolutely terrible for cats :/
Forgot to address this in my earlier reply---

The woman who was helping me at the organization acknowledged that the dry stuff wasn't good for kitties, but she said that she had foster parents get kittens accustomed to dry food since a lot of the people they would be adopting to would likely have the cats on dry. As you're probably aware, people that take the time to research cat nutrition and provide the better quality cat foods don't represent the majority of cat owners, so I think she was just trying to act in the best interest of placement, figuring that placing a kitten in a forever home (although with not the best food, perhaps) was likely better than not being able to place the kitten in a home at all.
 

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So, when I wrote the post, I think I was hoping to just get some reassurance that what I had done wasn't completely crazy and unthinkable, since she had more or less spoken to me in that way, as though I was a neglectful and abusive cat parent. That was just really injurious to me since I wouldn't knowingly do anything that I thought would be harmful to my cat. C
BlackFriday, I certainly don't think you are a neglectful, much less abusive cat parent! Friday is on great food, gets regular vet care, you came here to question the water out always instead of just saying "well, that's the way it is" and it is very clear from your posts that you are a concerned and loving catparent. You are probably way beyond 99 percent of the catparents out there! So, hug Friday and enjoy the kitten!
 

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I understand why they suggest dry feeding, because most people who adopt a cat will unfortantely feed dry as well. It would be nice if the organization would at least give a booklet or something to prospective cat parents about how wet food is best for the kitty's health and stating some facts telling why. Most people mean well even if they do feed dry food.
 

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I understand why they suggest dry feeding, because most people who adopt a cat will unfortantely feed dry as well. It would be nice if the organization would at least give a booklet or something to prospective cat parents about how wet food is best for the kitty's health and stating some facts telling why. Most people mean well even if they do feed dry food.

The booklet is a great idea!
The rescue that I adopted my cat from actually required all fosters and adopters to attend a seminar on cat care. It was REALLY informative, they covered everything from common dangers to cats to which foods are healthiest for cats and what ingredients to look for and avoid. I know a lot of shelters might not have the resources for that, though, but a booklet might be a cheaper alternative :)
 
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