Why Does My Cat Refuse to Drink Water from His Bowl?

More than a few felines virtually ignore the cool, clean water in their monogrammed, pristine water bowls in favor of balancing on the toilet seat to drink from that bowl instead. This odd behavior is especially popular with cats who’ve developed a fascination with how the water swirls when the toilet is flushed. Other kitties enjoy standing at a kitchen or bathroom sink, drinking their fill from a dripping faucet. Some will even sit on the counter or vanity and wail loudly until a human appears to make the faucet drip for them.

As strict carnivores, cats are designed to get most of their water from their diet (which in the wild consists of small prey animals). Your kitty descended from desert-dwelling felines and there aren’t many water sources in the desert. Not only does your cat have a lower thirst drive than many animals, but according to the experts, kitties also don’t see still water in a bowl all that well, and it also has no odor (especially if it’s filtered). Running or dripping water can be heard and is easier to see than still water.

It’s also possible cats avoid still water because outdoors, standing water can be contaminated with toxins, whereas running water is usually fresh and clean. Another problem is that in the wild, cats are prey for other animals, and so they feel vulnerable in many situations. In your home, one of those situations could be a water bowl placed in a corner or against a wall. While drinking from it, kitty’s back is to the room, and he can’t see household “predators” sneaking up on him. Cats are also very sensitive to subtle changes in smells, tastes, and flavors. Plastic water bowls leach BPA and other toxins into the water that may cause kitties to steer clear of them.

Poor-quality metal bowls may have the same problem. It could also be that small particles of food have dropped into the water, changing its smell or taste. Switching to glass water bowls, changing the water daily and using pure, filtered water are some suggestions for assuring your cat isn’t repulsed by his water source. If he prefers moving to still water, consider investing in a pet drinking fountain to keep him occupied and encourage him to drink more.

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