Can Cats Drink Bottled Water? Vet Reviewed Facts & Concerns

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Can Cats Drink Bottled Water? Vet Reviewed Facts & Concerns

 

bottled drinking water
Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.


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Water is essential for cats and needed for basic survival and health.  Most cats rely heavily on the moisture from their food for hydration, which is why wet diets are sometimes preferred. Cats generally have less interest in drinking standing water than dogs, however, they should always be offered an additional water source, or two, aside from their food.

All cats should have access to fresh water at all times, whether it is from a bowl or a drinking fountain. While it is common to give cats tap water, bottled water can be a good alternative. However, some bottled water might contain harmful contaminants that you want to avoid giving to your cat, it is expensive and it is much less environmentally friendly.

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Is Bottled Water Safe for Cats?

Yes, most bottled water is safe for cats to drink and can be used in replacement of tap water. Bottled water refers to any drinking water that has been stored in either a plastic or glass bottle. Certain bottled waters contain tap water as a source, but others might use spring, distilled, or mineral water.

Drinking water that is safe for humans is generally going to be safe for cats too. However, the water needs to be pure and free from flavors, harmful contaminants, and carbonation that might be unsafe for cats.  Bottled water is great to have on hand for cats in case of emergencies because it is easy to store.  It is also a good alternative water source for cats if the water from your tap is unsuitable for drinking, as is the case in some regions.

Calico cat sleeping beside a bottle of water
Image Credit: Elnur_Babayev_8888, Shutterstock

Which Types of Bottled Water Can Cats Drink?

Not every bottled water is created equal, and the quality of the water can vary greatly.  There are various types of bottled water, but only a few of them are safe for cats to drink.

Let’s take a look at the different options below.

1. Spring Water

Spring water is collected from underground water reservoirs as the water flows to the earth’s surface.  It contains a balance of different minerals while being low in pollutants.  Spring water is safe for cats and is one of the most popular types of bottled water you can give to them.

bottled waters
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2. Mineral Water

Mineral water is sourced from natural springs, where the water flows to the earth’s surface.  It contains minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium.  Mineral water is safe for cats to drink.


3. Carbonated Water

Carbonated or sparkling water refers to any water that has added gasses to make the water fizzy.  The water undergoes a process where carbon dioxide gas is added which gives the water a slightly bitter taste.  Cats can have the occasional sip of carbonated water if it is free from additives like sugar, flavors, and artificial sweeteners.  However, carbonated water should not replace your cat’s still water.

Carbonated water being poured into glass
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4. Distilled Water

Distilled water is purified water that has been boiled to a vapor and condensed.  This type of water is free from impurities, pathogens, minerals, and electrolytes.  Unfortunately, distilled water may not be safe for cats or humans to drink as their only water source.  While a few licks of distilled water are not harmful to cats, it lacks the minerals that cats need to replace those that are lost through urine and sweat.  More studies are needed to look into the effect of distilled water on hydration and kidney health in cats, as no peer-reviewed studies exist at present.


5. Filtered Water

Filtered water is probably one of the best types of water you can give to cats. It contains minerals and electrolytes that cats need in the water, but most impurities have been filtered out using a mesh sieve or carbon.  You can either give your cat filtered water from your tap or straight from bottled water.


What Kind of Bottled Water Should You Not Give to Cats?

Flavored Water

Flavored water in water bottles
Image Credit: Antonina Vlasova, Shutterstock

This type of water contains additives to give the water a fruity, sweet, or otherwise nice taste and is meant for human consumption.  Flavored water is not safe for cats to drink because of the additives and amount of sugar it contains.  Cats should only be drinking plain water that has no sugar or artificial ingredients that may put their health at risk.  Some common sweeteners used in flavored water include aspartame, xylitol, and saccharin.  Those sweeteners are not good for cats and can cause gastro-intestinal upset.  While xylitol is highly toxic to dogs, it doesn’t seem to be toxic to cats, but it can upset their tummies.

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BPA Concerns in Plastic Water Bottles

Most bottled water is stored in plastic, which may raise concerns over its safety for cats.  Those plastic bottles may leach harmful compounds into the water which might be harmful to cats. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a compound found in many plastic bottles and storage containers, but it might be concerning for our pet’s health. This naturally makes people cautious about giving plastic bottled water to cats in fear of exposing them to BPA and microplastics.

To avoid potentially exposing your cat to the chemicals leached in plastic water bottles, try opting for filtered tap water instead. Alternatively, you can check for plastic water bottles that are BPA-free and use them. However, be sure to check that other harmful bisphenols have not been used in replacement.

red haired cat playing tap water
Image Credit: NadyGinzburg, Shutterstock

Artificial Fluoride in Bottled Water

Fluoride is commonly found in drinking water to help prevent tooth decay.  It can naturally be found in both tap and bottled water, but sometimes it is found in an artificial form.  Certain bottled water companies add artificial fluoride to the water if it has been removed during a filtering or purification process.

In humans, small traces of fluoride are needed to prevent dental caries.  However, research isn’t clear as to whether fluoride in water helps reduce periodontitis (the most common dental disease seen in cats and dogs). Excessive fluoride consumption can be dangerous to cats, leading to fluorosis, but the amount added to bottled and tap water is unlikely to cause any problems.  The fatal dosage of fluoride for most cats is around 5–10 mg/kg.

Is Bottled Water Better for Cats Than Tap Water?

Many people view bottled water as a purer water source than water straight from the tap. However, certain contaminants found in bottled water might be just as harmful as those found in tap water.  Both bottled water and tap water can contain heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, and other contaminants that you might want to avoid exposing your cat to.

Giving your cat filtered water with fewer dissolved solids and traces of chlorine can be a better choice than just bottled or tap water, and it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than buying bottled water.

cat drinking water
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How Often and How Much Water Should Cats Drink?

Cats should be drinking around 4 ounces of water per every 5 pounds of body weight per day according to experts at PetMD.  Your cat should always have access to clean and fresh water, even if they are fed a moisture-rich wet food.  Some cats do not enjoy drinking water in a bowl and prefer moving water from a fountain.  Finding a water source that your cat enjoys drinking from is important, despite how fussy they can be.  Replacing your cat’s water bowl with a water fountain may help encourage them to drink more water throughout the day.

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Final Thoughts

Bottled water is usually safe for cats to drink if it has no harmful additives, but it doesn’t appear to be more beneficial than tap water.  If you are giving bottled water, the water needs to be plain and contain no carbonation, artificial additives, or sweeteners.  There are mixed opinions on giving a cat distilled bottled water and more research is needed.  Filtered tap water can be a healthy alternative to bottled water, it saves you money, helps the environment, and is just as good for your cat.


Featured Image Credit: junpinzon, Shutterstock

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