Dodging trouble at water bowl

Local | Georgina Noyce 2 Mar 2021

Keeping an eye on the queue for the water bowl, I was ready to jump in if there was any trouble.

Trouble was unlikely though, as this lot have been cohabiting for so long that they automatically behave like siblings, but it didn't hurt to be prepared.

Encouraging animals to drink enough water isn't always easy with prepared food.

In nature cats and dogs would get moisture from the food they eat, or the type of food would encourage them to drink to get rid of fur, feathers or bones.

Prepared food doesn't encourage drinking, so domestic animals, especially the older they get, tend to suffer kidney problems.

As the fourth animal in line, Bonnie the Pomeranian, took her turn at the water bowl, I wondered if it was worth adding another bowl to speed up the process, but suspect it would be the same as all the other times I have tried it - a non-starter.

If they all decide they want a drink at the same time, then they only want to use the same bowl.

It's partly psychological - when each animal first joins the family, we make a positive thing of good behavior - so drinking water was praised and while the praise tailed off as it became habitual, each new addition would get the praise, so the others would join the queue for a drink and praise.

Occasionally trouble would start, like the time Sassoon decided Molly was taking too long over her drink, so shouldered Molly out of the way to get to the water bowl.

Molly, still quite new to the family, turned on Sassoon with a snarl, to be brought up short by Sassoon's bland, but confident "don't mess with me" look.

Or the time Amber ex-feral cat thought she should take her turn ahead of Bonnie, so Bonnie head butted her ginger sibling, starting a rolling, yelping, mewling wrestling match, until Molly shoved them apart and had a second drink of water herself, making them both wait.

Having them all want a drink at once, meant either they were getting too warm, or animal food manufacturers had changed their ingredients enough to increase thirst.

Something to be monitored, because although they wouldn't intentionally hurt each other, accidents easily happen with such disparate sizes and breeds, not to mention the odd cat in the mix.

Georgina Noyce is an equestrian judge, and has a menagerie of adopted four-legged waifs and strays.

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April 2021

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