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Home > Cats > Can Cats Drink Distilled Water? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Can Cats Drink Distilled Water? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

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Dr. Karyn Kanowski

Veterinarian, BVSc MRCVS

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

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Water is an essential nutrient that all living things need to survive. Not all water types are created equal, however. Tap water has a different composition than distilled water, which is void of all impurities and minerals that are naturally present in other water sources.

While distilled water may be an exceptionally pure form of H2O, it may not be right for all your family members (including those of the feline variety) to drink as their sole source of water. Read on to learn why you shouldn’t give your kitty distilled water.


What Is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is a kind of purified water where salts, minerals, and organic materials are all removed. It’s made by boiling water into its steam state, collecting said steam, and condensing it.

Regardless of its source, water can have trace amounts of minerals, pesticides, contaminants, and bacteria. When water is distilled, all these impurities are removed. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of the healthy minerals found in water, too. The distillation process removes over 99.9% of minerals.

bottled waters
Image Credit: yanik88, Shutterstock

Should I Give My Cat Distilled Water?

Although not actually harmful, long term consumption of distilled water can result in essential nutrient deficiencies, so it is not deemed to be suitable for consumption. Bottled water companies that use distilled water add electrolytes back into the water to make it safe for human consumption, and this also applies to cats.

The lack of electrolytes and minerals makes distilled water ideal for use in sterilizing medical equipment, coolant production, lead-acid batteries, and other applications where mineral build-up can be detrimental, but not and ideal drinking water source.

What Other Types of Water Are There?

You might come across several water types as you begin searching for the best water for your kitty. The main types include:

  • Tap water is the water that flows through a faucet. It is sourced from three locations – lakes, rivers, and groundwater. The source of the tap water that flows to your home will depend entirely on where you live. You can find simple filters that attach to your faucet to remove any odors or strange tastes. If you have a drinking fountain for your kitty, chances are it comes with a filter to achieve the same goal.
  • Spring water is collected from underground aquifers as it flows to the earth’s surface. You can find bottled spring water, and it is entirely safe to offer your kitty.
  • Well water, like spring water, comes from underground aquifers. Private wells are built onto rural properties and can be pumped into the home. It is often fresher and higher in nutrients, though it can be contaminated by chemicals, sewage, and runoff. The bottom line is if the well water at your home is safe for you to drink, it is okay for your pet, but must be tested regularly.
red haired cat playing tap water
Image Credit: NadyGinzburg, Shutterstock

What If I Only Have Access to Distilled Water?

Distilled water is okay to offer if during a natural disaster or water crisis. However, it should not be your pet’s only source of hydration as it can strip the body of potassium and sodium.

Be prepared with backup water supplies if you live somewhere that could potentially be affected by a natural disaster. It’s a good idea to have a supply of water in jugs or bottles at your disposal, in case of an emergency. You might also consider investing in a hand-operated pump purification system or purification tablets.


Final Thoughts

While distilled water is pure and the preferred choice for many mechanical and medical applications, it isn’t the best option for cats. Although pure H2O sounds like it should be the best drinking water available, the minerals and electrolytes normally found in water are actually essential for us to consume.

See also: 

If you’re in the midst of an emergency, distilled water can work in a pinch, but it should not be offered often.

Featured Image Credit: ExplorerBob, Shutterstock

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