The toilet bowl, bathtub, kitchen tap, condensation on windows. Some cats will drink water from anywhere but their own perfectly good water bowls.

Watering Hole

As baffling as it may be for humans, cats have their own perfectly good reasons for doing so:

They may have an underlying health condition

Is your cat not drinking out of their bowl because they don’t want to, or are they seeking out more water because they’re extra thirsty?

Increased drinking can be a sign of medical conditions such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and kidney disease. If you notice your cat’s drinking behaviour has changed, book an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure it’s not a sign of disease.

They prefer fresh, moving water

Your cat may be looking for fresh, clean, aerated water. And yes, as far as your cat’s concerned, even toilet water fits that bill. By comparison, the water in your cat’s bowl may have been sitting around for longer than your cat would like, becoming stale and accumulating a film of hair, dust, and other particles.

They prefer a different water temperature

Your cat may seek out other water sources because they don’t want room-temperature water. A cat that joins you in the shower or drinks leftover bathwater might prefer its water warm, whereas one that licks condensation off the windows or drinks straight from the tap might like it cool.

They don’t like the bowl shape, size or location

Your cat may be avoiding their water bowl because they find drinking from it uncomfortable. Some cats won’t drink from deep or narrow bowls because they don’t like their sensitive whiskers rubbing up against the sides. If the water bowl is in a location that is noisy, busy or has other strong smells around it, your cat may not feel comfortable enough to drink and only drink a minimal amount, or not at all. They will then search for other water sources.

They don’t like the taste

Your cat may not like the taste associated with the material the bowl is made from. Just like many humans prefer drinking from a glass or aluminium can, your cat may prefer a ceramic or stainless steel bowl over a plastic one. Plastic soaks up material, food debris and smells more and can have a rougher surface texture which may irritate your cat’s whiskers when drinking.

What you can do:

  • Book an appointment with your local Greencross Vets to rule out illness.
  • Change your cat’s water frequently and clean the bowl thoroughly each time. Saliva & food particles can result in bacterial residue building up on the bowl.
  • Try water bowls of different shapes, sizes and materials to see what your cat prefers.
  • Place several water bowls around the house to offer your cat multiple water source options.
  • If your cat seems to like fresh or running water sources a pet water fountain is a good solution.