It’s important for cats to have fresh water every day to remain healthy. Many owners fret when they don’t witness their cats drinking and even offer alternative fluids to encourage them to drink more.
As milk is not recommended, is it OK to offer cats something fruity to quench their thirst? For instance, can cats drink apple juice?
Cats can drink a little apple juice without ill effect but should not regularly imbibe any type of juice. If a cat steals a sip of apple juice from your cup, don’t fret. However, if you want to encourage a cat to drink more, there are healthier alternatives to apple juice.
A cat’s natural diet does not include fruit
Cats belong to a group known as obligate carnivores. This means they are naturally meat-eaters. For survival, a cat must have a high-protein diet where that protein comes from meat and meat alone.
A small amount of fruit as found in apple juice will not harm a cat but has no place in its daily diet. A cat would not naturally find apple juice to drink in the wild and therefore does not need to be offered it as a treat or an encouragement to drink.
Too much fruit juice can lead to digestive issues
A cat’s digestive system has not evolved to digest a high-carbohydrate diet. It produces plenty of enzymes required to digest meat proteins but not those to digest carbs.
If you give a cat apple juice on a regular basis it is likely to develop a stomachache and possibly diarrhea. It’s teeth will also be more prone to decay which will make eating its proper diet of meat more difficult.
It’s easy to imagine that cats will benefit from the vitamins found in fruit juice. In fact, a cat gets all the vitamins it requires from a properly balanced diet of cat food. Look for those labelled as ‘complete’. If you make your own, cooked or raw, follow a tried and test recipe that contains the necessary nutrients.
But it’s not just stinky stools you have to worry about. Cats (and people) that take in too much sugar can quickly gain weight. Feline obesity is already a major concern for most cats and adding apple juice to your cat’s diet isn’t going to help!
Why apple juice is not a good drink for cats
There are several types of apple juice. These are the main three:
- Freshly pressed – this is literally made of apple juice extracted by literally squashing apples. It has a high water content which is fine, but about 10% of its volume is sugar.
- Concentrated – this is made in a similar way to fresh-pressed apple juice but some of the water is evaporated, meaning the sugar content is 11% or more.
- Apple juice drink – this often has added sugar or artificial sweetener.
It’s the high sugar content that makes apple juice an unsuitable drink for cats. It’s difficult to clean a cat’s teeth so you should avoid letting them drink anything that will wash their teeth with sugar. There is a high chance it will cause serious tooth decay.
Also, the protein content of apple juice is negligible, therefore, it has no nutritional value to a cat.
Do cats have a sweet tooth?
Cats may try to drink sweet things if they are readily available, including fruit juice. As carnivores, they don’t naturally have a sweet tooth and are not able to distinguish something that has a sweet flavor.
Our cat’s wild ancestors would not have chosen to eat fruit and do not have the taste buds for sweet food that we have. Therefore, if a cat drinks something sweet it is because it is inquisitive, not because it is hampering after the flavor of sugar.
Does apple juice contain any vitamins a cat requires?
We’ve established that apple juice is too sugary for cats and does not contain any protein. But what about the vitamins and minerals it contains? Are any of these good for cats?
Apple juice is a good source of certain vitamins and minerals, and whilst we benefit from drinking it, a cat does not. Though cats might require some of these, they are all present in a complete cat food diet.
You might think that fruit juice is a good source of antioxidants but these are also found in red meat and are added as a supplement to many prepared cat foods.
Therefore, a cat does not require apple juice or any other fruit juice to fulfill its antioxidant requirements.
Can cats eat apples?
Apples contain more fiber than apple juice but, unlike people, cats don’t need this in their daily diet.
You may have heard that apple pips contain the potentially deadly poison known as cyanide. It’s true they do. Though a few apple pips won’t harm us, cats are a lot smaller so could be more seriously affected.
So to be safe, keep apple pips away from cats. If you eat an apple, dispose of the core where your cat can’t get at it.
What can cats drink besides water?
If you’re convinced your cat is not drinking enough, there are several things you can add to water to make it more appealing. The following examples are all far healthier options than apple juice.
Chicken or turkey broth
Plain chicken or turkey broth is a perfect example of flavored water most cats will love. You can make this by simmering a chicken or turkey carcass and giblets after a roast dinner.
Do not add any other ingredients, especially salt, garlic, and onion. Garlic and onion are foods that cats should not eat.
Ensure you strain every bone from broth and allow it to cool before serving it to your cat.
If you don’t fancy making broth you can order it ready made.
The lactose content of cow’s milk is indigestible to cats because they don’t produce the enzymes that digest it.
Goats milk has a very low lactose content making it a much safer alternative drink for cats. It contains probiotics so can help digestive health.
Tuna or clam juice
An ideal way to encourage a cat to drink more water is by adding fish flavored ice cubes to their bowl.
Freeze low salt tuna or clam juice in an ice cube tray and then pop a couple in your cat’s water dish. Your cat may try to to lick an ice cube and at the same time will ingest some of the water it’s floating in.
As the flavored ice cubes melt the water will become fishy-tasting and hopefully be more tasty to your cat, encouraging it to drink.
How to get your cat to drink more water
Apple juice, goats milk and broths aside, water is the best thing your cat can drink and there are several ways to encourage them to drink more of it
Try different bowls
Some cats prefer wider bowls and some like theirs raised of the ground. Experiment with different materials such as steel and pottery.
Opt for a cat fountain
Cats are often fascinated by flowing water and a drinking fountain often encourages them to drink more. There are many available at a range of prices.
Just make sure you refresh the water every few days and the filter once a months.
Offer fresh water daily
If you use traditional water bowls, it’s important to clean them and refresh the water every day. Many cats will not go near a dirty water dish. Funnily enough though, they will slurp from dirty puddles and filthy pots of water in the garden.
Place water in several places
Try putting a few water bowls around your home to see if this leads your cat to drink more. Sometimes a cat might feel thirsty but if there’s no water nearby, can get distracted en route to their dish and not end up having a drink.
Turn on the faucet
If your cat show an interest in drinking from a tap, turn it on. It’s best to allow a cat to stand on your kitchen counter drinking at the basin if that’s a way to get it to drink.
Mix water into wet food
Whenever you feed your cat wet food, add a tablespoon of water and mix it in well. This is an easy way to increase its water intake every day.
Can cats drink apple juice? Conclusion
The fact that cats can drink apple juice is not to be confused with the idea that cats should drink it. Just because a small amount of apple juice is likely to be harmless, this does not mean we should ever offer it to our cats.
Because of its high sugar content and lack of protein, cats should not drink apple juice. Instead, concentrate on ways to get you cat increase its water intake.
And remember, cats get a lot of water from wet food so you might not notice them drinking it neat that often!