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Can Cats Drink Ice Water?

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Drinking water and staying hydrated is absolutely critical for the health of our cats. But if you’ve done any kind of research about our feline friends, you already know that they aren’t exactly great at staying hydrated. While there are plenty of liquids that your cat can drink besides water, one of the simplest ways you can encourage cats to drink more is by adding some variety to their existing water options.

That means more bowls, different locations and even varying temperatures.

But what about ice water? Can cats even drink ice water?

Yes, cats can drink ice water and some may even prefer it over regular or room temperature water. While it can encourage some cats to drink more water, others may make a mess by playing with the ice cubes and over-eager cats could damage their teeth by trying to bite the hard ice. 

Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about ice water and cats. But first, let’s start with one important guideline.

Give Your Cat Multiple Water Options

What you don’t want to do is force your cat to only drink ice water. Proper hydration is extremely important for our cats but our feline friends can also be very picky.

In some cases, they’ll love the variety that ice cubes bring but other cats may not. They may even decide that it’s better to wait for other water options. If their only choice is a water bowl with ice cubes then that could actually be a very big problem.

Cats that are chronically dehydrated may be more prone to conditions like FLUTD along with a long list of other health problems. Properly hydrated cats are more likely to feel better, be healthier, and even shed less in some cases.

Despite the many benefits, cats won’t always stay well hydrated on their own and can use some encouragement from us. One of the easiest ways to help cats drink more is by adding additional water bowl locations. One study from Royal Canin found that cats greatly preferred multiple sources of water. That means it’s a good idea to give your cat multiple water options at all times but this becomes even more important if you’re adding some variety like ice water to the mix.

Consider making one water bowl location the ice water bowl and leave the other options unchanged so your cat is never in a position where they have to choose between ice water or no water.

What Are The Risks Of Ice Water, Ice Cubes, and Cats?

I’m making the assumption here that when we talk about ice water you’re actually using ice cubes. Cold water is quite safe for cats and likely doesn’t need as much explanation for most folks.

But the addition of ice cubes can change a few things so let’s look at the possible risks before we break down the benefits.

Some Cats Will Make A Mess

Most cat parents already know that cats love to flip water bowls or just splash around the water bowl with a paw. Some cats even seem to think that the water bowl is the perfect place to deposit their favorite toys.

All of these habits on their own can create quite the mess but if you’re regularly giving your cat a bouncy, floating ball of ice to play with they can really go nuts!

Not only will they make a mess by splashing the water but once the ice cube is out of the bowl many cats will enjoy pushing it around the house! Eventually you’ll end up with a little puddle that could be far away from the water bowl.

Consider a flip-proof water bowl or one with a special tray if you know your cat likes to make a mess!

Ice Cubes Can Create Trip Hazards For Humans

A mess could be the least of your concerns when it comes to ice cubes and those little puddles could create tripping hazards to humans! Obviously, ice is slippery and there’s no telling where your cat will decide to take an ice cube but just as dangerous as the cube itself are the little puddles they’ll leave behind.

Slip and fall accidents are quite common and a surprise puddle of water is the perfect set up for an accident so be careful!

Cats May Try To Chomp Down On Ice Cubes

The risk here is quite low but some cats may injure a tooth by trying to bite down on the ice. Most cats will simply lick the ice and your feline friend will quickly figure out that ice is too hard to bite through.

Still, your cat’s long canines can actually be quite fragile and prone to breaking so carefully watch how your cat reacts to their first ice cubes.

Kitty Brain Freeze

We’ve all experienced a little brain freeze and it isn’t fun!

The same thing can happen to your feline friend if they get a little too excited about their ice water. However, there are no long-term risks or health problems associated with brain freeze and the discomfort is only temporary.

Your cat will also learn pretty quickly that too much ice water isn’t very fun.

Why Offer Your Cat Ice Water and Ice Cubes?

Now that you know the risks, let’s look at the rewards! So why would you want to give your cat ice water in the first place?

Improved Hydration and Health

Anything you can do to improve your cat’s hydration is generally worth the effort. As historically desert-dwelling animals, cats don’t have the same thirst drives as us or many of our other pets.

But unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they don’t need water and according to veterinarian Deborah Linder, ” there are a variety of medical conditions that benefit from a cat increasing their water intake. Some common examples are kidney disease and bladder stones or crystals.”

That means anything you can do to improve your cat’s water intake also has the potential to improve their health. Adding in wet food is going to make the biggest impact and your cat’s wild ancestors would have gotten a lot of their hydration from eating live prey.

That’s of course missing in the modern house cat.

But will adding ice cubes and making ice water actually encourage cats to drink more?

In many cases, the answer is yes!

Cats are often interested in novel stimuli and the change in temperature or addition of ice cubes could be all it takes to spark some extra interest in the water bowl.

Just For Fun

But offering ice water to your cat doesn’t have to be done with any motivation other than having fun!

Sure, some extra hydration is great but adding some variety to the water bowl can provide cats with mental stimulation and might even provide you with some entertainment!

In addition to something new, some cats may like the extra cold water since it can help cool them off a little bit. You absolutely shouldn’t rely on ice water to regulate your cat’s temperature but some cats may enjoy something cool in their tummy from time to time.

Can Ice Water Impact Digestion?

If consumed in large quantities, ice water can constrict blood vessels and lead to slower digestion. However, the chances of this occurring in cats is quite low.

As we’ve already mentioned, cats aren’t known for their love of water so the chances of them drinking so much ice water that it causes any type of long-term problem is extremely unlikely.

The exception here is if you’re adding ice water and extra flavor to the water. Adding something that cats find delicious like bone broth may lead cats to overdo it with drinking and could result in problems.

Still, the risk here is very low but something to be aware of.

Skip The Cubes And Consider A Cooling Bowl

What if you want to offer your cat ice-cold water without the cubes?

Maybe you already know that your cat won’t be able to resist pushing ice cubes all around the house or you just don’t want to mess with constantly refreshing the ice.

Your best option is to pick up a water bowl that’s designed to keep water cold over long periods of time. These are usually geared towards dogs that are spending time outdoors but there’s no reason a cat can’t enjoy them too!

There are surprisingly few of these on the market but the most popular option is the K&H Freezable Water Bowl which you can see on Amazon by clicking here. The bowl has a large hollow opening where you can add water and then place it in the freezer overnight. Just add water to the bowl the next day and the ice inside the bowl will keep things nice and cool all day for your cat!

The only downside is that this bowl is pretty gigantic for cats and holds a massive 96 ounces. That might be a good fit if you’re looking for something that your cat will be unlikely to tip over but it will also be a bit large for many homes.

It’s also deep enough that it could cause whisker fatigue in some cats which is occurs when a cat’s whiskers are constantly rubbing against the bowl. This happens most often in deep bowls where cats have to really dive in to get the food or water.

A smaller alternative is the 16 oz bowl from Cooler Dog which you can see on Amazon by clicking here. This bowl uses a permanent gel that’s placed inside the bowl, similar to an ice pack you might see in a lunch box, that freezes and keeps water cool.

It’s also better if you’re concerned about whisker fatigue since the bowl is much more shallow, a trait that’s common across all the best bowls for whisker fatigue.

Both bowls will work for cats and they’ll give you the chance to offer cold water all day long without the hassle of ice cubes!

Can Cats Play With Ice Cubes?

Can ice cubes ever be a safe toy for cats?

Well, if you’ve ever met a cat then you know that anything can be a toy…including ice cubes!

However, it’s not always the most practical toy and we’ve already mentioned the risks of ice cubes to both humans and cats. While many cats won’t have a problem, some folks may want to try a different option.

That’s where the giant ice cubes come in!

One clever Youtuber figured out that a simple water balloon in the freezer can produce the perfect cat toy that will also help improve your cat’s hydration! What could be better?

Check it out in this video:

My favorite part of that video are the cats that insist on getting inside the tray in order to lick the ice! While it’s not exactly ice water, this could be a fun activity for your cat!

Should You Give Cats Ice Water?

Ice water is a great way to add a little variety to your cat’s routine and potentially encourage them to drink water. Both of which are good things in moderation. However, you aren’t required to give your cat ice water and it’s not something that cat parents should feel like they have to do.

But what cat parents should be doing is offering their cat multiple sources of water around the house in different-sized water bowls when possible. This isn’t just over the top crazy cat guy advice either, the folks at Royal Canin completed one of the most extensive studies of feline drinking habits and found that cats preferred a variety of water sources and ” if there were several options to choose from, water points in a room other than the one where the food bowl was located were preferred.”

In other words, ice water should just be a part of your cat’s overall drinking options but never the only option!

If you do choose to work in ice water, consider making one bowl the go-to for ice water so that your cat knows to look there for cold water.

Closing Thoughts

Cats can absolutely enjoy ice water and even have fun playing with ice cubes! While ice cubes aren’t always the perfect toy, ice water can be a great way to encourage cats to drink more water which is a constant battle that every cat parent should be aware of.

However, it’s important to emphasize that ice water shouldn’t be your cat’s only choice and our feline friends generally prefer several water options!

What do you think? Are you going to give your cat some ice water?

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