As cat owners, most of us feed our cats simple diets of food and water. But have you ever wondered if cats become bored just drinking water? They do not, necessarily. Cats have different nutritional needs than humans. While water is the healthiest option for cats to drink, there are a few other liquid alternatives, if you want to switch up their beverage choices sometimes. We will discuss what cats can drink besides water in further detail here.
How Do My Cat’s Nutritional Needs Differ from Mine?
As mentioned above, cats have very different nutritional needs than humans. There are a few things to consider:
Cats are Obligate Carnivores
Cats must have meat in order to survive. This is defined as being an obligate carnivore. Cats cannot eat a vegetarian or vegan diet like you or I could do. When you understand that your cat must eat meat, it can help you to have a better idea of the healthiest drink options for your kitty. Liquids that fit in with the cat’s carnivorous nature are the best selections. Liquids rich in sweets, carbohydrates, fruits or vegetables are not the healthiest alternatives for beverage choices and, indeed, are not good for your cat.
Cats Can’t Taste Sweets
Felines lack the taste receptor needed in order to be able to taste sweets. They cannot taste sweet drinks and do not need them as part of their diet. If you worry that you cat is “missing out” by not being able to drink juice or soda when you do, don’t give it another thought. You should not give your cat sugary, sweet drink choices (such as fruit juices or soda).
What Can My Cat Drink In Lieu of Water?
With a better understanding of your cat’s nutritional needs, there are some beverage options for kitty other than water (although water should always be the first, primary choice for cats to drink).
When a cat is a kitten, they can, and should, drink milk from their mother. As the cat gets older, however, cats become more lactose intolerant and should no longer drink milk of any kind, from their mother or from a cow.
An interesting side note: the only mammals that drink milk as adults are humans. As all mammals get older, they produce less lactase, and are therefore unable to digest the lactose in milk as efficiently. Milk then becomes a gastrointestinal problem for these adult mammals, including cats.
You may be thinking, “but my cat loves milk!” Cats are carnivores, as mentioned above, and they will crave animal fat. Milk is full of animal fats and is something cats will lap up happily if offered, not realizing that it will upset their stomachs.
Once again, this only applies to kittens under four weeks old. If a kitten of that age does not have access to her mother’s milk, kitten formula is a good replacement option. Don’t let your adult cat drink kitten formula, however, as it will upset their stomach. If your kitten was taken from its mother at a young age, talk to your veterinarian about recommending a kitten formula. Examples of ones available on Amazon.com include Nutri-Vet Milk Replacement for Kittens with Probiotics and PetAg KMR Kitten Milk Replacer Powder for kittens up to six weeks.
Although adult cats should never drink cow’s milk or mother’s milk, goat’s milk is ok as an occasional treat. The fat molecules contained in goat’s milk are much smaller than those in cow’s milk. Therefore, goat’s milk can be more easily digested by cats and other mammals who are lactose intolerant. There are some specially designed goat’s milk products for cats and dogs available for sale on Amazon.com, such as The Honest Kitchen Instant Probiotic Goat’s Milk for Cats and Dogs and Nature’s Diet Pet Dried Whole Cream Goat Milk .
Cats are carnivores, so it stands to reason that bone broth would be a good alternative beverage choice for them. It is made by slow simmering of animal bones and connective tissue. Bone broth can provide cats with many health benefits, such as improved digestion, better liver health, healthier skin and coat, and better joint mobility. Plus, cats love bone broth’s proteins and fats. You can make your own bone broth for your cats by following this video. You can also purchase bone broth for pets like Primalvore Organic Bone Broth Food Topper.
If you do choose to give your cat bone broth, you can give it to them on its own, mix it into your cat’s water, or add it to your cat’s dry food to increase flavor and hydration.
Most cat owners know that cats love tuna, as they will come running from anywhere in the house when you open a can of tuna in the kitchen! Tuna juice is a good beverage alternative for cats, with some considerations. Make sure to choose a tuna that is water-based, not oil-based, as oil can upset your cat’s stomach. Don’t give them tuna juice too often, as tuna is high in sodium. Choose low-sodium, mercury-free tuna whenever possible, like Wild Planet. Tuna juice can be added to your cat’s water or food or given to them on its own.
What Should Cats Absolutely Never Drink?
There are some drinks that you should never give your cat:
As mentioned above, adult cats should never drink milk, mother’s or cows (or oat milk, even). They are lactose intolerant and cannot easily digest milk. You should not feed your cat any dairy products (such as cheese) either for that matter. Goat’s milk, also mentioned above, is a good milk alternative.
Also noted above, cats cannot taste sweet foods or drinks, so giving your cat fruit juice wouldn’t make sense anyway. Sugary beverages are not good for your cat, as your cat does not need carbohydrates and will have problems processing and digesting them.
Never let your cat drink alcohol. If you are enjoying an alcoholic drink, don’t let your cat “sample” it. Cats can succumb to alcohol poisoning if they drink too much alcohol. Keep your alcoholic drinks out of your kitty’s reach.
Caffeinated beverages are never a good idea for cats to drink. Cats are more sensitive to caffeine than humans are. Cats won’t typically be interested in sweet coffee drinks, but might be attracted to creamy caffeinated beverages, so be sure to keep them away from your cat when drinking them.
Summing It Up
Water is the safest and healthiest choice of beverage for your cat. You can add tuna juice or bone broth to it occasionally, or supplement your cat’s beverage choices with goat’s milk, if you want to add a little variety. Above all else, make sure that your cat always stays hydrated and always has water available to drink, day and night.