Water fountains can help cats

Q: Does my cat really need a water fountain? Why can't he just drink out of a bowl?

A: A cat needs water to flush wastes, lubricate joints, transport nutrients through the bloodstream and help regulate body temperature. A fountain might not be a necessity for your cat, but it has benefits. Here's why it's something to consider.

Yes, you can lead a cat to water

Depending on age and species, water is a major component — 60% to 80% — of a cat's body. Cats need more water when they're active, when it's warm or hot in their environment, and when they're on medications that can cause thirst, such as alprazolam for anxiety or steroids for skin problems.

Fountains encourage pets to drink more water. Cats, in particular, become dehydrated easily. The more water they drink, the healthier they are. The splash and burble of fountains attracts their interest, unlike bowls of flat water. It's difficult for cats to see water that's not moving, so they're less likely to lap at it.

A fountain also allows you to track how much water your cat is drinking, which helps you keep tabs on its health. At our house, we fill the fountain with a large measuring cup so we can track the cats' intake. This way we're more likely to notice if we're having to fill it up more often or if remaining water is at a lower level than normal. Monitoring water consumption lets us recognize sustained changes that might indicate medical issues such as diabetes, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism or Cushing's disease.

If your budget doesn't allow you to spring for a fountain, try leaving a faucet on to drip just a little at a time. Your cat will be attracted by the movement of the water and can dabble in it and drink from it as much as he wants.

Do you have a pet question? Send it to askpetconnection@gmail.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.