Can Cats Drink Bottled Water?

Updated July 23, 2023

If your cat is a picky drinker, you may wonder whether cats can drink bottled water. That’s a valid question.

Water is vital for felines since their body consists of 70% water, but not every water source is equally safe.

Tap water indeed isn’t risk-free, and many pet parents have resorted to bottled water for their furry friends. But is bottled water better than tap water for cats?

Many people forget to stay hydrated and set reminders to drink on time. Unfortunately, convincing a cat to drink enough water is more challenging, especially if it doesn’t like the water taste.

There’s always a reason for a cat’s preference for a specific water source. The owners should consider the said reason, water safety, and convenience to find a compromise.

Is Bottled Water Safe For Cats?

Bottled water is generally safe for cats, but not every bottled water is the same. Bottled water comes from different sources. Some bottled water manufacturers sell regular tap water filtered from contaminants.

Others take water from springs and other natural sources. Typically, such water is marked with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved label stating the source: artesian well, mineral, spring, or well water.

The FDA regulates bottled water quality and manufacturing processes and has several rules in place. Firstly, bottled water manufacturers must produce, store, and transport their products in sanitary conditions.

Secondly, bottled water must be free from bacteria and contaminants. Thirdly, bottled water manufacturers must implement quality control processes for further protection against microbial and chemical contaminants.

Lastly, the manufacturers must sample-test the source water and final product for contaminants. One would assume that bottled water complying with all these guidelines is perfectly safe, but some risks are still involved.

Overall, bottled mineral water from natural sources packed in glass or PET plastic bottles is safe for cats. However, regular consumption of cheap filtered tap water packed in low-quality plastic bottles may have adverse effects.

Cats shouldn’t drink flavored bottled water because it contains sugar or sweeteners and artificial flavoring agents that may be dangerous to pets. For example, common sweetener xylitol can cause severe poisoning and even death in cats.

Furthermore, cats can’t sense sweetness, so giving them flavored water doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t satisfy thirst like regular water either because of sugars.

Risks Associated With Cats Drinking Bottled Water

The primary risk of bottled water for cats is microplastics, tiny plastic particles invisible to the eye. Recent studies found microplastics in over 80% of samples, including samples of some of the most popular water brands in the U.S.

We don’t yet know everything about all the dangers microplastics pose. However, they are already proven to cause inflammation and accumulate in organs over time, particularly in the liver, kidneys, and intestines.

Microplastics aren’t an issue if a cat drinks bottled water occasionally. However, researchers suggest that regular bottled water consumption can negatively affect a cat’s health in the long term.

Numerous studies have linked Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical contained in plastics, with diabetes and increased blood pressure in humans. We have sufficient grounds to believe that the effects on felines may be similar.

The good news is that not all bottled water manufacturers use BPA in their products, and some water comes in glass bottles that don’t pose a threat to human or feline health.

When choosing bottled water for a cat, inspect the label for a recycling logo. The logo should have a number inside indicating which type of plastic the bottle is made of. Opt for bottles from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) marked with “1.”

Can Cats Drink Sparkling Bottled Water?

Many people prefer water with bubbles over boring still water, but is sparkling water safe for cats?

Cats are often attracted to carbonated water because they find the rapidly moving bubbles and hissing sound interesting; however, some are scared of sparkling water for the same reason.

A little bit of sparkling water is unlikely to harm a healthy cat. In fact, most cats don’t like the taste of carbonated water and will only make a few licks.

However, even if your cat genuinely likes carbonated water, it shouldn’t drink it frequently or in large amounts.

Sparkling water doesn’t contain elements toxic to felines, but the bubbles may result in bloating and flatulence.

Is Bottled Water Better Than Tap Water For Cats?

Bottled water isn’t perfectly safe for cats, but neither is tap water. Tap water safety for cats in some locations is doubtful.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) insists that the U.S. supplies the cleanest tap water in the world, regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, tap water quality in some regions may still be compromised.

For example, if you live close to major agricultural production facilities, water in your area may have a higher industrial pollutant and agricultural runoff bacteria content.

Some territories have harder water than others. Water hardness is determined by the calcium, magnesium, chalk, and lime content.

Although these minerals are safe and even healthy in moderate amounts, extremely hard water can cause urinary tract diseases in cats in the long term.

Many feline owners struggle to choose between tap water vs. bottled water for cats, even after weighing all the pros and cons.

Frankly, there’s no reason to overthink which water source is the best for cats because the long-term effects of each water type aren’t researched sufficiently. However, bottled water may be better in specific instances.

Bottled water is a lifesaver during natural disasters that impede access to tap water. It’s also more reliable in the event of plumbing emergencies that compromise tap water cleanliness.

Giving water directly from a bottle to a sick cat may be easier than forcing it to drink from a bowl. Bottled water is also more convenient during travel or walks.

Generally, the best water source for cats is filtered tap water because cleanliness is guaranteed. Filtered tap water doesn’t contain microplastics and undergoes extra filtration that removes potential contaminants.

Tap water and bottled water tastes are no different for humans. The taste depends on the mineral content, and most people can’t distinguish between tap water and bottled water in blind tests.

However, felines can sense the difference, so some cats prefer drinking from a specific source. Sometimes, cats are so hesitant to drink from different sources that they go without water for days, which causes dehydration.

Why Doesn’t My Cat Like Bottled Water?

Cats are picky eaters, and some individuals are equally picky drinkers. If your cat refuses to drink bottled water, it may be used to the flavor of your tap water.

The mineral content of tap water in every location is different, and so is the mineral content of different bottled water brands. Unfortunately, you can’t find out precisely which minerals your cat prefers.

If you’re concerned about tap water cleanliness but your cat refuses to drink bottled water, consider installing a filter or buying a filtering jug. Alternatively, you may try out different bottled water brands.

Many feline owners complain that their cats will only drink from a faucet. The reason some cats prefer to drink from the tap lies in feline nature. In the wild, cats drink primary moving water that is cleaner.

You can’t explain that bottled water is just as safe as running tap water to a cat to convince it to drink from a bowl. However, you can get a cat water fountain to solve the problem.

Such water fountains keep cats off kitchen counters and sinks, provide cats with a pleasant way of drinking, and are completely silent. Some fountains even filter water for extra safety.

Why Does My Cat Love Bottled Water?

While some owners can’t convince their cats to drink bottled water, others struggle with the opposite issue. If your cat only drinks bottled water, the reason may be the chemical smell of tap water.

The feline sense of smell is 16 times stronger than ours. While we may not notice the difference between tap and bottled water smell, cats do.

Tap water is often treated with calcium hydroxide, fluorosilicic acid, aluminum sulfate, sodium silicofluoride, and liquefied chlorine. If the chemical content is too high, it may deter a cat from drinking the water.

Pay attention to your cat’s behavior when it approaches the water bowl. If your cat sniffs water but won’t drink it, this is the most plausible reason. A water filter is a simple solution to the issue.

Alternatively, you may add a slice of cucumber or another natural flavoring into the water bowl to disguise the chemical taste. However, ensure that the fruit, herb, or vegetable isn’t toxic to cats.

Some cats prefer drinking water right from the bottle held by the owner. That may seem odd, but it doesn’t mean that a cat is spoilt. Perhaps, the kitty prefers running water and will appreciate a cat water fountain.

Lastly, cats may prefer the taste of specific bottled water brands. You likely know people who will only drink bottled water of one brand and frown upon others. People have different taste preferences, and so do cats.

Image credit: Unsplash

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