Cats have a reputation for being finicky drinkers. As a cat owner, you likely put a lot of care into choosing the best food and treats for your feline friend. But have you put the same thought into what type of water cats should drink? With so many options like tap, filtered, bottled, distilled, and spring water, it can get confusing.
So, can cats drink spring water? The short answer is yes, cats can safely drink pure spring water in moderation. Spring water contains essential minerals that can benefit cats. However, there are also some potential drawbacks to be aware of. Read on to learn everything you need to know about giving cats spring water.
An Introduction to Spring Water
Before diving into the pros and cons of spring water for cats, let’s first explain exactly what spring water is. Spring water is water derived from an underground source, outlet, or aquifer. It can come from a natural spring or a drilled well that taps into an underground water source.
The key characteristic of spring water is that it flows naturally to the surface without any external force or pumps. Spring water is generally collected at the source before bottling. It has not undergone any chemical treatment.
Pure spring water contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. The mineral content gives it a slightly sweet, crisp taste. The amount and type of dissolved minerals depend on the spring source. While spring water is safe to drink, the minerals can leave behind some residue.
Now that you understand what spring water is, let’s analyze the potential benefits and drawbacks of giving it to cats.
Pros of Giving Cats Spring Water
There are several good reasons why spring water can be a healthy choice for cats:
1. It Contains Essential Minerals
As mentioned above, spring water naturally contains essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Here’s a quick look at how these minerals benefit cats:
- Calcium – Necessary for muscle, nerve, and heart health. Also promotes bone strength.
- Magnesium – Supports enzyme functions and protein synthesis. Keeps bones strong.
- Potassium – Important for fluid balance, nerve transmission, and waste elimination.
Many cat foods are fortified with extra minerals. But getting them naturally from spring water can provide an added boost. The trace minerals in spring water may help correct deficiencies and promote overall wellness in cats.
2. It Has a Neutral pH
Tap water can sometimes be too acidic or basic for cats. Spring water generally has a neutral pH between 6.5-8. This makes it easy for cats to digest and absorb. Acidic water may irritate the bladder and urinary tract. Alkaline water can alter the taste of food and cause mouth or gum irritation. The neutral pH of spring water strikes the right balance.
3. It Lacks Chlorine and Fluoride
Municipal tap water contains added chlorine and fluoride. Chlorine is used to disinfect public water supplies. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay in humans. However, the chlorine and fluoride in tap water may be harmful to cats if consumed long-term.
Spring water is untreated and does not contain these added chemicals. This makes it a purer, more natural drinking option. The lack of chlorine also helps spring water taste fresher.
4. It Promotes Hydration
Staying hydrated is crucial for cats. Water supports all cell functions, keeps mucous membranes moist, prevents constipation, and helps the kidneys flush out waste.
The minerals in spring water can actually help cats absorb more water compared to plain distilled water. The small amounts of sodium and potassium encourage water retention. This leads to better hydration and digestive health.
Potential Drawbacks of Spring Water for Cats
While spring water has some benefits, there are also a few potential downsides to consider:
1. Mineral Buildup
As mentioned earlier, the naturally occurring minerals in spring water can be healthy for cats. However, too much calcium and magnesium over time can lead to mineral deposits in pots and water bowls. This buildup needs to be cleaned frequently to prevent bacterial growth.
Mineral buildup can also occur internally in some cases. This can lead to bladder stones, kidney stones, or urinary blockages. But this risk is low if spring water is consumed in moderation.
2. Higher Sodium Content
The sodium content in spring water varies depending on the source. Some springs produce water quite high in sodium. For healthy cats, this is usually not an issue in small amounts. But cats with heart disease, kidney disease, or hypertension may need to limit their sodium intake.
Ask your vet before giving high-sodium spring water to cats with any pre-existing conditions. They may recommend sticking with low-sodium filtered or distilled water instead.
3. Possible Bacterial Contamination
While very rare, untreated spring water can potentially become contaminated with bacteria at the source. E. coli, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and other pathogens can find their way into some natural springs. Always inspect bottled spring water for any signs of cloudiness or sediment.
The risk is extremely low from bottled brands since they typically use protected spring sources. But if you collect your own spring water, take precautions to boil, filter, or disinfect it before giving it to your cat.
4. Not as Strictly Regulated as Tap Water
Tap water from public utilities is closely monitored and regulated by government agencies. Standards exist for allowable levels of contaminants. Spring water is generally not as strictly regulated or routinely tested as tap water. Not all spring water is bottled in facilities that adhere to FDA Good Manufacturing Practices.
This doesn’t mean spring water is unsafe. But it does mean quality can vary more compared to tap water. Check the source and bottling standards before choosing a brand of spring water for your cat.
Expert Tips on Giving Cats Spring Water
Now that you know the pros and cons, here are some expert tips for giving spring water to cats:
- Use spring water in moderation. While healthy in smaller amounts, using it exclusively can increase risks. Rotate between a few different water sources.
- Mix with regular tap water. Half spring and half filtered tap water lets your cat get minerals while limiting any downsides.
- Pick quality brands. Do research to choose reputable spring water brands that use protected sources. Check for FDA-regulated bottling facilities.
- Clean bowls frequently. Wash food and water bowls daily to prevent buildup from mineral residue. Use filtered water for rinsing.
- Offer free choice. Provide fresh spring water in a clean bowl, but don’t force your cat to drink it. Offer regular filtered tap water as well. Let your cat choose what it prefers more.
- Monitor urine pH. Ask your vet to test your cat’s urine pH occasionally if providing spring water regularly. Make sure it remains in a healthy range.
- Avoid giving to sick cats. Don’t give spring water to cats with kidney/heart disease, history of urinary issues, or on sodium-restricted diets without your vet’s approval.
Answering FAQs about Cats and Spring Water
Let’s recap the key pieces of information by reviewing some frequently asked questions:
Can I give my cat bottled spring water from the store?
Yes, you can give your cat bottled spring water, preferably a brand bottled from a protected source under FDA guidelines. Check the label for sodium content and other details. Avoid generic brands or store brands that don’t list the spring source.
Is it safe for cats to drink spring water every day?
Drinking moderate amounts of spring water daily is unlikely to cause harm in healthy cats. But variety is best. Rotate spring water with filtered tap water and other sources to limit mineral buildup. Use spring water for no more than 50% of total intake.
Why is spring water good for cats?
The naturally occurring calcium, magnesium, potassium and other trace minerals make spring water an appealing option. These minerals boost bone, nerve, muscle, and enzyme health in cats when consumed in moderation.
Can too much spring water be bad for cats?
Yes, drinking only spring water long-term can potentially lead to excess mineral buildup in the urinary tract or bladder stones. Too much calcium and sodium may also aggravate pre-existing kidney issues in some cats. Moderation is key.
Is it better to give cats spring or distilled water?
This depends on your cat! Some cats seem to like the taste of fresh spring water more. But distilled water may be a better choice for cats prone to urinary tract issues. Ask your vet for the best option if your cat has had past bladder, kidney or urinary blockage problems.
The Takeaway: Spring Water is a Healthy Occasional Treat
In conclusion, spring water makes an appealing drinking option that many cats enjoy. The minerals give it a refreshing taste and provide health benefits when consumed moderately. However, spring water should make up no more than 50% of total water intake for cats. Rotate with filtered tap and/or distilled water as well.
Avoid giving spring water from unknown sources or giving it exclusively without veterinary guidance. But otherwise, enjoying a few refreshing laps of cool, trickling spring water can be a treat for healthy cats! Always provide clean, fresh drinking water in a washed bowl and let your cat decide when it prefers spring water or regular tap water.
Please share this article if you found these tips on cats and spring water helpful! And don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian for advice tailored to your individual cat.