If you have ever broken a sweat while engaging in some form of strenuous activity or exercise, chances are you would have reached for a Gatorade to replace lost electrolytes and hydrate yourself.
Not only is a drink like Gatorade used by athletes but some people also chug it when they are sick as an electrolyte supplement.
But can cats drink Gatorade regularly or when hydration is required?
Most cats will be fine from taking a couple of licks of Gatorade solution. Though fine for human consumption, Gatorade contains ingredients that are not suitable for our cats. I would not recommend your cat Gatorade to drink at all.
We will be taking a closer look at this energy drink to understand why it isn’t suitable for cats. And what healthier alternatives can cat owners use to hydrate their feline friends.
What Is In Gatorade?
What started out as a simple sports drink for a University in Florida has evolved to become the go-to energy drink for both athletes and non-athletes.
Many people remember it as that ‘bright blue sports drink’.
Gatorade contains ingredients like:
- Citric acid
- Monopotassium phosphate
- Artificial flavorings
There are rather common ingredients that you can find in many energy drinks. Some even contain caffeine for that quick energy boost.
How Does Gatorade Work?
The role of an energy drink serves two purposes. One is to hydrate the drinker as quickly as possible. Secondly, it is to replenish the lost electrolytes from intensive exercise.
Electrolytes are essential minerals in the body that helps to support fluid balance, muscle contraction and maintain a high-performance level.
These are important benefits for an athlete or someone training hard.
The sugar in Gatorade helps to improve the absorption of the drink by the body and the sodium or potassium will replenish the lost electrolytes.
Why Cats Should Not Be Drinking Gatorade?
As ideal as Gatorade sounds for your cat when it needs to hydrate or replenish its electrolytes when sick, it isn’t the type of drink you want to give your cat.
First of all, there is too much sugar in the drink. Sugar is used to spike insulin levels for better absorption. Sugar also helps the drink taste better than drinking plain water.
The important thing to note is that cats are carnivores which means that they do not need sugar in their diet.
In fact, all cats including domestic cats have lost their ability to taste sweetness due to not needing carbs to survive.
Feeding your cats sugar or carbs can lead to feline obesity and diabetes over the long run.
Besides the high level of sugar in such energy drinks, there is a high concentration of salt or sodium as well.
Salt is needed to replenish the lost electrolytes but too much salt content isn’t healthy for cats. Given their small sizes, our domestic cats only need about 20-40mg of salt per day.
For humans, we can have up to 2300mg of sodium a day.
That is almost 100x more than what a cat can have!
Such drinks are made for human consumption and not for pets. Even a small amount ingested by your cat can be a lot by their nutritional requirements.
There is also the presence of citric acid which is normally used as a preservative or flavoring in food or drinks.
Unfortunately, anything that is citrusy is toxic for cats and can cause an upset stomach in cats. Anything that comes from citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit or lemons must not be given to cats.
What Drinks Can Cats Not Have?
Besides energy drinks, there are a couple of other beverages that are not safe for cats to drink.
Anything With Caffeine
I understand that many of us can’t live without our morning cup of coffee or five cups of joe each day. Too much coffee isn’t good for humans and it sure isn’t healthy for cats.
Caffeine can help kickstart our day a little but it can put your cat’s sensitive system into overdrive leading to heart palpitations and vomiting.
Anything With Alcohol
This goes without saying.
Our cats or pets can’t process alcohol in their bodies. Alcohol can have a very damaging effect on your cat’s liver like how it causes liver cirrhosis in alcoholics
Keep anything alcoholic away from your cat or pets. And this includes food or snacks that have been infused with alcohol.
Anything With Dairy
Yes, I know the media has portrayed our kitties as milk-drinking machines. And that is true as cats love the taste and smell of fat which is found in dairy products.
Not many people are aware that the majority of cats are lactose intolerant. Anyone who has lactose intolerance cannot digest lactose.
This causes nasty symptoms like compulsive smelly farts, diarrhea, bloating and vomiting. Giving our cat anything dairy is a bad idea.
How Do You Keep A Sick Cat Hydrated?
You might come across other pet sites suggesting that energy drinks like Gatorade are safe for cats who are sick
I wouldn’t bet my last dollar on that even for energy drinks that contain no sugar. It might not contain sugar but there will be some form of artificial sweeteners in the drink to make it taste sweet.
And artificial sweeteners like Xylitol can be very toxic to cats, even fatal at some.
If your cat is sick and needs to be hydrated, do not attempt to self medicate. Bring your cat to the clinic for proper veterinary advice.
The vet will put your cat on an IV drip to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes if it is severely dehydrated. If the vet feels that your cat needs more hydration, you might be asked to bring your cat back or give your cat fluids subcutaneously at home if possible.
What Should I Give My Cat To Drink?
Your cat should only be drinking fresh water most of the time. Water is all that they need to hydrate and replenish electrolytes.
If you leave in an area that has ‘hard water’ or untreated tap water, get a filter to treat the water before giving it to your cat.
This reduces the risk of mineral buildup and contamination in your cat.
How To Force A Cat To Drink More Water?
One problem that many cat owners have is trying to make their cats drink more water. Cats evolve from being desert animals.
They don’t consume their water from a ground source but from the live prey that they catch. These days, many pet owners are feeding their cats dry food which hardly any moisture at all.
You can encourage your cat to drink more water by adding fresh water to their food.
There are some cat breeds like the Maine Coon or Bengal that prefer running water. For these cats, you can consider getting a cat fountain to make drinking water more enjoyable.
Place a couple of water bowls with fresh water around the house to make it easy for your cat to drink more water as well.
Another method that has really worked well for me is to feed my cat homemade tuna broth. Get some fresh tuna and just boil it in water for 10 minutes to extract the flavor.
Let it cool down before adding some to your cat’s food.
Not many cats can resist the smell and taste of tuna and won’t hesitate to ask for more.
Just don’t feed your cat raw tuna or tuna soaked in oil or anything else besides water.
To recap, here are the ways you can help encourage your cat to drink more water.
- Add fresh water to their food
- Place water bowls around the house
- Get a cat water fountain
- Feed some homemade tuna broth
Pedialyte For Cats
There are some cat owners that feed Pedialyte to their cats for hydration purposes. Pedialyte works similar to an energy drink but it is meant for young kids and senior citizens.
It has a much lower sugar content and higher electrolyte concentration than most energy drinks.
There is also an unflavored version which is better as it does away with artificial flavoring.
Even though it might seem safer for cats, I would just run it by your vet to get a clearer picture. Your vet might have or recommend something else that is more cat-centric.
It is pretty obvious by now that it isn’t healthy for cats to drink Gatorade. It contains too many ingredients that can cause side effects in cats.
Just stick to freshwater or homemade broth if you wish to get more fluids into your cat.
If your cat is severely dehydrated from a medical condition, it needs to be brought to the vet immediately.
Humans can die from the lack of water in our bodies.
So can our cats.