Can Cats Drink Salt Water – Hydration Safety & Concerns


Cats love a fresh bowl of water. It’s always a joy watching my cat dart over to his bowl and hydrate to his heart’s content. This got me thinking about other types of water though, especially salt water. With its sour taste it can’t possibly be enjoyable for cats. But, can cats drink salt water?

Cats can drink salt water. The high salt content can lead to health issues in cats. Cats who drink too much salt water suffer from dehydration, lethargy, and lack of appetite. 

Let’s take a more in-depth look at cats drinking salt water.

Should Cats Drinks Salt Water

While cats can drink salt water, it doesn’t mean that they should drink salt water. Salt water should not be used as the primary source of hydration for cats unless it’s necessary.

If you think of a cat that’s out in the wild, they may not have access to a fresh water source all the time. Because of this, they may choose to drink from a salt water source as needed. Since cats weren’t initially created as domestic housecats, they were created to adapt to outside elements.

Cats are built differently than humans. Because of this, they’re able to process salt water through their bodies, where they will still receive some hydration from it. It has to do with the ability to filter the salt water through their kidneys to produce concentrated urine.

Can cats drink any water

Cats can drink most types of water. Tap water, fresh water, bottled water, etc. are all typically sufficient. The types of water you’ll want to avoid allowing your cat to drink would be distilled waters or any alkaline waters. Those types of water can throw your cat’s pH balance off track, which can create more significant problems.

If you have a cat, you do want to leave some water out for them to drink. However, you may notice your cat doesn’t seem to drink a lot of water. If they’re anything like my cats, you’ll see them splashing around the water with their paw or dumping their toys in it more than they drink it.

The reason they may not drink as much water as your dog or you as a human would have a lot to do with their diet. Cats can absorb a lot of the water they need from certain foods that they eat.

Some wet cat foods are formulated to add some hydration into your cat’s daily routine. If they eat enough and receive most of their hydration from their food, they won’t need to go to the water bowl to drink.

Is Salt Bad For Cats

Cats are pretty tolerant when it comes to salt, but it isn’t good for cats in excessive quantities. Because of their ability to use their kidneys to flush out the sale, it isn’t something you have to monitor extremely close.

With that said, I wouldn’t start salting your cat’s meals like they’re sitting at the dinner table with you. Allow them to receive the standard amount of salt from their foods, and they should be okay. Even an older cat doesn’t typically need to have any special diet to reduce or increase their salt consumption.

There is an exception to that rule. If your cat has any illness that would cause them to have a salt deficiency, you may need to take steps to increase their intake. Even with that, your vet would tell you the best route to increase your cat’s salt intake. They may create a special diet or put the cat on medication or an IV to increase their intake.

How Much Salt Water Is Too Much For Cats

There are too many factors that come into play to say how much salt water is too much for cats. All cats are different in how they hydrate themselves, how much salt is already in their system, how they process salt, etc.

Suppose you think of a standard domestic cat vs. a cat with some known issues with their kidneys. The cat that has kidney issues won’t handle as much salt as your standard cat because their kidneys won’t be able to flush it out as efficiently.

There is an illness that some cats end up with called hypernatremia. This essentially means the cat has too much salt in its blood. Cats can end up dying from a toxic amount of salt in their blood.

Some common symptoms to look for in a cat that has taken in too much salt is:

  • excessive thirst
  • loss of appetite 
  • lethargy
  • weakness

If your cat has been snacking on salt water or has taken in any large amounts of salt and you notice any of those behaviors, it is best to take them to your vet immediately.

Can Salt Dehydrate Cats

Yes, too much salt can dehydrate a cat just like it can a human. That is one reason you don’t want to have your cat solely rely on salt water for their means of hydration.

Imagine if you’ve eaten too much salt, and it makes you so thirsty. Now the only thing you have to drink is salt water. Common sense says that salt water will play a role in making you more dehydrated in the end and probably sick in general.

Cats don’t understand this. If your cat has too much salt and becomes dehydrated, they may continuously drink the salt water. Or they’ll continue snacking on whatever source of salt they’ve found around the house. This will only impact them negatively.

You don’t want to end up at the vet having to get your cat an IV because they were overdoing it with the salt. You certainly don’t want to run the risk of any permanent damage to their kidneys or other organs from excessive salt.

Can Cats Drink Epsom Salt Water

Much like regular salt water, Epsom Salt doesn’t appear to be toxic to cats. Epsom Salts are made up of magnesium sulfate, which isn’t poisonous to cats in small doses. If your cat laps up a few slurps while you’re soaking, it isn’t going to be a huge deal.

Depending on your cat and how much they drink, they may notice some intestinal issues. By intestinal issues, I mean diarrhea. Sometimes a cat’s body doesn’t react well with magnesium sulfate.

I would stay away from giving your cats Epsom Salts. You don’t want your cat to be uncomfortable, and you certainly don’t want to be stuck cleaning up any messes. 

Now, if your cat has a wound that you’re treating at home, you may be able to use a bit of an Epsom Salt soak. Feel comfortable knowing as they clean themselves as they always do; you won’t be poisoning them. 

Final Thoughts

In general, your safest bet is to stick with standard drinking water for your cats. Whether you grab it from your sink at home or a bottle of water, be sure your cats have regular water as their main source. 

And really, there is no reason to ever give your cat salt water. Whether you take your pet on a fishing trip with you or just want to go on a walk to the beach, make sure they don’t drink any. If they do, they’ll be fine, as long as they consume a very small amount.

Keep in mind, that cats who drink too much salt water will end up feeling sick, and the only fix is to give them clean water to filter all of that salt out. 

Use this information as a way to ease your concerns if you notice your furry friend licking your Himalayan salt lamp in your bedroom.

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