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Can Cats Drink Saltwater? Vet-Reviewed Info to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

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Some cats come running any time you put out a fresh bowl of water. Other cats can be extremely picky about the types of water they will drink. Some cats even refuse to drink water unless it’s available to them in a fountain!

We know that humans can’t drink saltwater without becoming dehydrated. But can cats drink saltwater? The short answer is, yes, they can. But it can lead to health issues over time.

Read on to get a more detailed look at why cats can drink saltwater.

Can Cats Drink Saltwater?

Cats are biologically different from people in many ways. One is that their kidneys can filter out enough of the salt in saltwater that they can actually rehydrate from it to a certain extent. This just isn’t hypothetical either. We know from a study done in 1959 that cats can depend for survival on solely saltwater for their drinking supply for a period of time1.

Why is this possible? Cats were not always house pets. They lived and thrived in the outdoors. To live successfully outdoors, they had to be able to adapt to different conditions. The domestic cat is a descendant of the African Wildcat, which lived in the desert where water was scarce. If there was a scarcity in freshwater, they needed to be able to hydrate from other sources, such as saltwater. This is said to be why modern-day cats still have the ability to drink saltwater.

Should Cats Drink Saltwater?

Not everything that can be done, should be done, though. Cats should never be given only saltwater to live off of. Vets don’t recommend giving extra salt to cats. Felines already have a high natural thirst tolerance or in other words, a low sensitivity to thirst and dehydration than most other omnivore animals.

Moreover, cats can obtain all the sodium they need from a well-rounded diet. As long as you are feeding your pet a high-quality diet, you don’t need to worry about their sodium intake.

Always provide fresh and clean water that is available to your pets at all times. It is even suggested to have more than one supply of water to keep your kitty happy.

cat drinking salt water
Photo Credit: Jumpstory

What If My Cat Won’t Stop Drinking Saltwater?

Don’t be alarmed if your cat occasionally takes a drink from your saltwater fish tank or your saltwater swimming pool. For example, saltwater pools should have about 1/10 the salt of seawater, so this will not harm them.

But, if your cat is continually seeking out saltwater as their main water source, you should schedule a vet appointment. They may have a deficiency in their diet, and your vet can help you rule out different causes and address this saltwater drinking. Consuming too much salt can result in sodium toxicosis. In fact, ingesting over 4 grams of salt per kilogram of body weight can be fatal for your cat.

Can Cats Drink Other Types of Water?

Cats can drink a variety of waters, such as tap, bottled, and freshwater. Alkaline water should be avoided, especially during mealtime and medication time, as it can alter the stomach acids and reduce the absorption of food and medications.

You may have noticed that your cat doesn’t drink that much water. This is natural, as cats are used to getting the majority of their water intake from their natural diet of moisture-rich prey animals. To help combat low water intake levels, be sure to feed your cat a diet of moisture-rich food and have abundant fresh water available for them to drink.

If you notice that your cat still isn’t drinking enough water, try a few of the following tips. Add more than one water supply in your house. Try placing a water supply away from their food bowl. You can also try using a fountain to help circulate the water and entice your cats to drink from it.

cat drinks fresh water from an electric drinking fountain
Photo Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

The safest thing to do for your cat is to have fresh water available at all times for them. While they can safely have some saltwater here or there, it is not recommended to purposefully have them drink salt water. You should monitor the amount of saltwater they intake if they do have access to a saltwater fish tank or pool. If they seem to be drinking a large amount, you should take them to a vet immediately.

Overall, it is interesting to see that our cats function differently than us, but we should always think of their health before changing their diets to satisfy our curiosity.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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