(Photo by Maggie O'Neill)Community Cat Water Tips

Outdoor cats need clean water daily throughout the year. If it is not practical to wash the bowl daily, bring paper towels and extra water to clean the bowl periodically. Water is absolutely indispensable if you feed your colony dry food exclusively. Cats will become dehydrated if they are fed a dry-food-only diet and have no drinking water available.

Throughout the winter months, here are tips to keep the water from freezing:

  • Refilling water bowls on a consistent schedule will quickly teach the cats when fresh water will arrive each day.
  • If possible, refill the bowls with hot or warm water.
  • Use heated water bowls (if near an electrical outlet).
  • Keep the water in the sun, using dark colored bowls that will absorb the sun’s heat.
  • Use microwavable disks such as the Snuggle Safe Disc (designed to keep newborn kittens warm), or disposable air-activated hand warmers, under the water bowl.
  • Surround the top and sides of the feeding area with plexiglass to create a greenhouse environment for the water.
  • If there is a water source like a spigot, run the water slightly, since it won’t freeze as quickly as still water.
  • Shield the bowl from wind.

If you notice that the cats are not using the water you provide, try moving it a short distance away from their food. Cats sometimes prefer this arrangement.