Cats need plenty of fresh, clean water to stay healthy. But with so many types of water available, from tap to bottled to filtered, you may wonder if distilled water is safe for cats to drink.
Distilled water is water that has been boiled and condensed to remove impurities, minerals, and chemicals. This leaves pure H2O water. While small amounts of distilled water are generally safe for cats, there are some important factors to consider before making it your cat’s primary water source.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about giving your cat distilled water. You’ll learn about:
- What is Distilled Water?
- Is Distilled Water Safe for Cats?
- Benefits of Distilled Water for Cats
- Risks and Side Effects of Distilled Water for Cats
- How Much Distilled Water Can Cats Drink?
- Transitioning Your Cat to Distilled Water
- Distilled vs Other Types of Water for Cats
- FAQs About Cats and Distilled Water
Equipped with this information, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether distilled water is right for your feline friend. Let’s dive in!
What is Distilled Water?
Distilled water is water that has undergone a process called “distillation” to remove impurities and minerals.
This process involves:
- Boiling water until it turns to steam
- Collecting and cooling the steam until it condenses back into liquid water
- Filtering out solid impurities in the water
The result is pure H2O with minerals like calcium, magnesium, and fluoride removed. Tap water contains trace amounts of these minerals.
Some key facts about distilled water:
- It does not contain minerals, fluoride, chlorine, or microorganisms
- It has a neutral pH of around 7
- It does not conduct electricity well due to lack of ions
- It has a flat, bland taste compared to tap or spring water
Distilled water is produced industrially in large quantities for uses like car batteries and irons. You can also purchase distilled water in jugs from most grocery stores to use at home.
Now that you understand what exactly distilled water is, let’s explore whether it’s safe and beneficial for cats to drink.
Is Distilled Water Safe for Cats?
Distilled water is generally safe for cats to drink in moderation.
Since it doesn’t contain harmful contaminants found in tap water, such as chlorine, distilled water poses no immediate health risks.
However, the lack of minerals may cause issues if distilled water is the only source of water long-term. We’ll cover these potential risks next.
Cats can safely drink small amounts of distilled water. Many cat parents use it to make homemade cat food recipes or mix medications without diluting their effectiveness.
Distilled water is also handy when traveling with cats, as the mineral content of tap water varies across regions. Bringing distilled water helps avoid an upset stomach.
As long as you monitor your cat’s intake and watch for signs of mineral deficiency, occasional distilled water should not harm your cat. Let’s look at some of the benefits next.
Benefits of Distilled Water for Cats
Here are some of the main advantages of giving your cat distilled water:
No Harmful Contaminants
Tap water can contain trace amounts of chemicals like chlorine, fluoride, pesticides, and heavy metals from old pipes. Distilled water removes these contaminants.
This makes it safer for cats with allergies or sensitivities. The purifying process also eliminates bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Prevents Urinary Crystals
The mineral content of tap water varies by region. In some areas, it may be high in compounds like magnesium and calcium.
Consuming these minerals long-term can lead to urinary crystals or stones in cats. Distilled water is virtually free of minerals, so it does not contribute to this risk.
Some cats dislike the taste of chlorine and other chemicals in tap water. The flat, neutral taste of distilled water may be more palatable.
This can encourage picky cats to drink more, reducing their risk of dehydration. The purity also allows cats’ delicate sense of smell to detect freshness.
Distilled water can be purchased conveniently in jugs from the grocery store. It lasts indefinitely without going stale.
You can bring distilled water when traveling with your cat. Unlike tap water, it will taste the same across regions.
Though not free like tap water, distilled water only costs $0.70 to $1 per gallon. For the small amount cats drink per day, it is quite affordable long-term.
Much cheaper than “designer” bottled waters marketed for pets!
Distilled water does not produce plastic waste like single-use bottled water. The jugs are recyclable too.
It also conserves water compared to bottled brands which use 2-3 times more H2O in production. This makes distilled water a great eco-friendly option.
Now that you know the main benefits, let’s look at some potential downsides of giving cats distilled water.
Risks and Side Effects of Distilled Water for Cats
While small amounts of distilled water are fine, using it as your cat’s sole water source can pose some risks:
Lack of Essential Minerals
Distilled water is devoid of key minerals cats need like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.
Consuming it long-term could lead to electrolyte imbalances and deficiencies. This can cause muscle weakness, fatigue, vomiting, and seizures in extreme cases.
Urinary Tract Problems
Pure distilled water may raise urine acidity since it lacks buffering minerals. This makes cats prone to crystals and stones.
Magnesium and calcium from tap water actually help prevent excessive crystal formation. So removing them entirely is not ideal.
Loss of Beneficial Fluoride
Most tap water contains added fluoride which helps prevent dental disease. Distilled water removes this protective mineral.
Over time, a lack of fluoride could contribute to plaque buildup, gum disease, and tooth decay in cats.
For cats used to tap water, the ultra-pure composition of distilled water can irritate the digestive tract.
It may cause loose stools or diarrhea, especially if switching your cat abruptly. Gradually introducing distilled water allows their system to adjust.
Not Nutritionally Balanced
Since distilled water is simply H2O without added vitamins, electrolytes, or minerals, it is not a balanced water source for hydration.
Cats also get water from their food. But if distilled water is their only drinking source, they may become deficient over time.
As you can see, there are some potential risks to using distilled water long-term or exclusively with cats. Next, let’s look at safe amounts.
How Much Distilled Water Can Cats Drink?
There are no official guidelines, but here are some general recommendations on daily amounts of distilled water for cats:
- Up to 20% of total daily water intake – For example, if your cat drinks 6 ounces (180 mL) of water per day, up to 1.5 ounces (45 mL) can be distilled.
- 1-2 ounces (30-60 mL) per day – This equates to around 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
- No more than 1 cup (240 mL) daily
Ideally, distilled water should make up no more than 25% of total water intake for cats. The rest should come from cat-safe tap water or filtered water that retains trace minerals.
Monitor your cat’s thirst and hydration status when offering distilled water. Signs of dehydration include lethargy, dry gums, and yellow urine. Increase tap water immediately if these occur.
Having covered safe amounts, let’s look at some tips for transitioning your cat to distilled water.
Transitioning Your Cat to Distilled Water
Making an abrupt switch can upset your cat’s digestive system. Here are some tips for a gradual transition:
- Start with a ratio of 25% distilled water and 75% regular drinking water for cats.
- Slowly increase the ratio of distilled water over 2-4 weeks.
- Mix the two types of water in one bowl during transition. The familiar mineral taste will help acceptance.
- Add some warming chicken or fish broth to the distilled water for enticing flavor.
- Try a cat water fountain with a split chamber – add distilled water to one section and regular cat drinking water to the other.
- Monitor stool consistency during the switch. Slow the transition if stools become loose.
- Offer distilled water at room temperature. Cats dislike very cold water.
- Use glass, stainless steel or ceramic pet bowls. Plastic harbors more bacteria.
- Frequently wash water bowls with soap and hot water to prevent bacteria growth.
With patience and proper technique, you can get your cat used to distilled water as a supplemental water source. But distilled water is not the only option for hydrating cats.
Next, let’s compare it to other types of cat drinking water.
Distilled vs Other Types of Water for Cats
How does distilled water stack up against other water choices for cats? Here’s a quick comparison:
|– Free <br>- Contains beneficial minerals
|– Chemicals like chlorine <br>- Bacteria if unfiltered
|– Removes chemicals <br>- Leaves healthy minerals
|– Needs regular filter changes <br>- Not bacteria/virus-free
|– Convenient for travel <br>- Pure taste
|– Expensive <br>- Plastic waste
|– No chemicals or minerals <br>- Pure H2O
|– Lacks healthy minerals <br>- No fluoride
|– Natural taste <br>- Rich in minerals
|– Often high mineral content <br> – May cause urinary crystals
For optimal health, offer your cat a combination of cat-safe tap water and distilled water. Tap water provides beneficial minerals, while distilled waters removes harmful contaminants.
This balances out the pros and cons of each type. You can also rotate different waters to give your cat variety.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions about cats and distilled water.
FAQs About Cats and Distilled Water
Here are answers to some common questions cat parents have:
Is it safe to give my cat only distilled water?
No, distilled water should not be your cat’s sole water source. The lack of minerals can cause deficiencies over time. Limit it to 20-25% of total daily water intake.
Does distilled water hydrate cats as well as regular water?
Yes, distilled water hydrates cats effectively since it is pure H2O. However, regular tap or filtered water contains a more balanced mineral profile. Offer both types.
Why does my cat refuse to drink distilled water?
Cats may reject distilled water at first due to the unfamiliar flat, mineral-free taste. Try transitioning slowly and adding warm broth or a water fountain to entice drinking.
Is it better to give a cat bottled or distilled water?
Distilled water is the healthier choice. Bottled waters often contain added minerals for taste, which may encourage urinary crystals. Distilled removes all minerals for purity.
Can I give distilled water to my kitten?
Yes, but only in moderation since growing kittens need more minerals from their food and water. Limit distilled water to about 1 ounce (30 mL) per day for kittens.
Does distilled water keep cats healthy?
On its own, no. Distilled water is not nutritionally complete for cats due to the lack of minerals. It should be mixed with tap water and a balanced wet food diet.
Hopefully these common questions provide more context on giving cats distilled water safely.
While small amounts of distilled water are fine for cats, it should not be their sole water source. The lack of minerals makes distilled water inappropriate for long-term hydration needs.
However, as an occasional supplemental drinking water, distilled water can be beneficial. Its ultra-pure composition eliminates chemicals and contaminants without introducing excess minerals. This can prevent urinary tract and digestive issues in cats.
Aim to limit distilled water to 20-25% of your cat’s total daily water intake. The rest should come from cat-friendly tap water or filtered water that retains healthy minerals.
Monitor your cat closely when introducing distilled water. Look for signs of mineral deficiency like lethargy, weakness, and poor coat quality.
With some prudent cautions, distilled water can be a safe supplemental hydration source. But remember to rely primarily on cat tap water or filters to give your feline the right balance of pure taste and essential minerals in their water bowl.