catAmple, free access to fresh, clean water is vital for your cat’s health. Water is the foundation of every essential system in your cat’s body, and therefore determines your cat’s quality of life. Have you ever stopped to think about the quality of your cat’s drinking water?

Is tap water safe for cats?

The answer to whether tap water in your area is safe for your cat depends on a number of factors. For one, every municipality is different. Some town water supplies have intentional and unintentional additives that can harm your cat’s health, such as chlorine, fluoride, bacteria, sediment, heavy metals, and pesticide residue. These may be especially troublesome for a cat with an immune deficiency or urinary tract disease.

The pipes in your building, recent water main repairs, and fluctuations in concentration of added chemicals can also impact the quality of water coming from your faucet. As a general rule of thumb, if you would filter your own water before you drink it, you should also filter the water for your cat.

What about bottled water?

It is estimated that 25 percent of bottled water actually comes from a municipal water supply. While bottled water has to meet certain standards set by the EPA and may go through more rigorous filtration processes, you have to read the label closely to see if you can get the same quality of water for your cat with a home filtration system rather than purchasing it bottled or having it delivered.

Spring water can be beneficial because it contains natural vitamins and minerals from bubbling up through aquifers, but be wary of mineral and distilled waters. The mineral levels in both of these cases are not appropriate for cats. You should also be mindful of water that is stored in plastic that contains bisphenol A (BPA). Often added to plastics to help with rigidity, BPA is chemically similar to thyroid hormones that can cause imbalances and disruptions in your cat’s health.

What about the filters in pet fountains?

Most pet fountains have two- or three-stage filtration. The most common pet fountain filters will have filter floss and and charcoal. The filter floss catches larger debris, such as hair and pet food crumbs, while the charcoal removes some chemical and particulate impurities.

Since every pet fountain is different, it’s best to compare which impurities you’d like to remove from your water supply against the specific fountain’s filtration system. You can write to the manufacturer if you’re unsure if the fountain that you’re interested in will be appropriate for your water supply.

What about filters for human use?

As an added precaution, you can always pour pre-filtered water into your cat’s fountain. Water filters for human use have gone through extensive testing, and information is more readily available about what each model is capable of removing.

What kind of water do you give your cat? Your sitter wants to know! Also be sure to clean and replace any fountain filters before you go out of town so that your kitty has an uninterrupted supply of fresh water while you’re away.

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by frankieleon on flickr