Why Won’t My Cat Drink From A Water Bowl?

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It’s a sad fact that our feline fur kids are extremely prone to kidney stones and other kidney problems.

According to Pet Health Network, 1 in 3 cats will experience kidney problems in their lifetime. Most cats don’t drink enough water, and that’s one theory as to why so many cats are having kidney problems.

But maybe your cat refuses to drink out of her water bowl. Why? What can you do to help your kitty drink enough water to hopefully keep kidney problems at bay? Here are the top 8 reasons cats don’t like drinking from their water bowl. There are also things you can do to try to help your cat consume enough water to stay healthy.

#1 – They used to get enough water from their prey

According to The Purrington Post:

“Cats originated as desert animals obtaining most of their water supply from their prey – small rodents and the like. While modern versions of cat food do offer some degree of hydration, the comparison is far from fair. Since cats received so much water from their prey in the past, they never took to drinking enough water by itself. This leaves the modern house cat open to a serious risk of dehydration and other health issues, caused by the lack of water necessary for their systems to function as they should.”

If your cat eats mostly or entirely dry kibble, consider adding some canned food to their diet. It has a higher water content than kibble. Alternatively, you can try adding chicken broth or water to your cat’s kibble to help them get more moisture from their food.

#2 – They prefer running water

In the wild, cats would generally prefer to drink from a running stream than a standing puddle. It’s natural that domesticated cats may want to avoid water that’s been sitting out, possibly accumulating dangerous organisms. Wide Open Pets says:

“When it comes to water, running is always better than still. One theory behind this is that cats instinctively may be wary of still water since stagnant water isn’t always safe to drink in the wild. Another potential theory is that hunching over a bowl to drink is simply more uncomfortable than drinking from a tap. When a cat is hunched over a bowl, it puts them in a more vulnerable position to be pounced on by another animal. A final theory is that running water simply tastes better!”

It’s also thought that cats hear running water much better than they can see flat water in a bowl. Besides, don’t you prefer drinking water fresh from a filtered tap rather than out of a glass that’s been sitting out all day? Try buying a pet fountain to get your cat to drink more water.

#3 – They don’t like the shape of the bowl

Whisker fatigue sounds like something you might read about in a comic strip, but it’s real. It might even be affecting your cat’s decision about whether or not to drink from their water bowl. Basically, the input from a cat’s whiskers can become really exhausting, so the feel of their whiskers on a bowl while they eat or drink may be too irritating for them to want to deal with. Try a shallow bowl that is wide enough for your cat to drink from without their whiskers touching the sides of the bowl. Their food may be offered from a plate for the same reason. But whatever you do, don’t decide to trim or cut off their whiskers! Even if they do get fatigued, whiskers serve many vital functions.

#4 – It’s too close to their food dish

In the wild, cats eat their prey far enough away from their water source to avoid contaminating it. In the not-so-wild of your house, they may not like drinking water that smells like their food for the same reason – it screams contamination. You should move the water bowl away from the food dish. You should also provide water bowls throughout the house so your kitty doesn’t need to go out of her way to grab a quick sip of water.

#5 – They don’t like the temperature

Maybe your cat is like me and only wants to drink water that’s ice cold. Maybe your cat prefers to hop in the shower when you’re done to lick the warm water from the tub. Let’s face it, some felines feel that room temperature just isn’t great for the taste of water. Try adding ice cubes to your cat’s water bowl to see if that will entice her to drink more.

#6 – There’s not enough – or too much – water in the bowl

According to Wide Open Pets:

“Cats truly are creatures of habit, and this extends to their water preferences as well. When you fill your cat’s bowl, try and keep the water levels consistent from day to day. If your cat is unsure whether the water is right at the top of the bowl or just barely filling the bottom they may have to put their paw in to test and see. Once this happens they may not even want to drink the water as its been ‘contaminated’ by their own paw.”

This goes along with the theory that cats have a difficult time seeing flat water. If your cat can be more certain of where the water level is, they may be more likely to drink from their bowl. Try to fill it to the same place every time you refresh it – which should probably be more than just once a day.

#7 – They feel vulnerable

If the bowl is in a corner, your cat may feel vulnerable to an attack – whether real or imagined – while their back is turned. This may be especially true in multi-cat households. Try pulling the bowl away from the wall a couple of feet so your cat can drink with their back to the wall.

#8 – It tastes bad

If you have a filter on your kitchen sink but give your cat straight tap water, you might be expecting them to drink water that you won’t drink. Even if you’re fine with tap water, the fluoride it contains probably tastes unnatural to a kitty. Try filtered or bottled water and see if your cat prefers it over tap water.

If your cat suddenly starts drinking significantly more or less water than usual, it’s probably time for a trip to the vet. Likewise if your kitty is urinating more or less than usual. These can be signs of kidney problems.

(H/T: Pet Barn, Wide Open Pets, Pet Health NetworkThe Purrington Post)

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