Getting your cat to drink properly from a bowl

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Orange tabby sitting behind tan couch next to lilac plant

Cats can be very finicky about their water and it's nothing to take lightly. Proper hydration is important for a healthy urinary tract and to help lower the risk of urinary tract infections. Cats may not touch a bowl of water available to them all day, but rush for a drink when you turn on a faucet. Some cats will drink from their water bowl, but insist on splashing the water, too. And others might tip the bowl over, choosing to drink only from the floor.

No one is really sure exactly why cats can be so picky about their water. In the wild, a cat will usually only drink moving water, which helps prevent it from getting sick. So, it could be an instinctual aversion. It could also be that your cat has learned that cooler water often comes from a tap or rain water. It's also possible that water is just a toy with the added benefit of quenching thirst.

In any case, it is still important that your cat stay properly hydrated. Here are a few things you can try to encourage your cat to drink directly from the water bowl:

  • Move the water bowl — your cat may be picky about having cat food and water right next to each other. Try moving your cat's water dish to somewhere that isn't right next to food
  • Change the temperature — if you think your cat doesn't like the water temperature, try adding a few ice cubes to the bowl
  • Change the bowl — different types of bowls will give different tastes to the water. If your cat has a plastic bowl, try one made from metal, ceramic or glass. If your cat is a bowl tipper, try switching to a wider bowl with a rubber base
  • Try a cat drinking fountain — there are cat drinking fountains that either constantly circulate water or they are activated by your cat approaching. A fountain of this sort will require electricity so be sure to think about the proximity of the closest electrical socket