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Why Do Cats Like Working Water?

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  • Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.

A cat’s quirky behavior is part of what makes kitties so endearing to pet parents. One common cat behavior pet moms and dads often observe is a cat’s love for running water. Cats drinking running water leads to adorable behavior like drinking from the faucet. But why do cats love running water? Here’s what the experts have to say, and a couple of products to quench a cat’s thirst.

Is Running Water Better For Cats?

Pet parents might be wondering if running water provides any benefits for their cats. Provided the still water in your cat’s bowl is clean and fresh, running water may not be any better than still water for your cat, though it may entice your cat to drink more. This is because, according to the pet experts at WebMD, cats may perceive still water to be dangerous (more about this below). Because cats are not big water drinkers to being with, this behavior also helps your cat to stay hydrated!

Why Does My Cat Like Running Water More?

Now that we know the benefits of running water for cats, let’s take a deep dive into the many reasons why they like to drink it.


1. Cats Sense Running Water Is Safer

Your cat’s ancestors were great hunters and never had access to a fancy water bowl! When these ancient cats needed to supplement the moisture beyond what was already in their prey, they would seek running water sources less likely to be contaminated with bacteria. Consequently, as VetStreet explains, domestic cats preserved this instinct telling them that running water is much safer to drink than still water.

2. A Cat’s Instincts Are Activated by the Sound

Cats are attracted to the sound of running water because they rely on their hearing to find it that way in the wild. According to Dr. Deb Greco at VetStreet, cats also don’t like still surfaces (such as unmoving, still water) because they are harder to detect by sight or sound, and that’s not a problem with fresh, running water!

3. Cats Prefer It

Just like we love a fresh glass of water when we’re parched, our cats can’t get enough of running water when they’re thirsty! Water from a regular bowl doesn’t always taste the way cats want, so they’ll seek out the freshest source, often from your kitchen or bathroom faucet. Running water looks the freshest to cats, explains WebMD, so cats often prefer that over a water bowl which can gather dust and other particles.

4. Cats Don’t Like When Still Water Touches Their Whiskers

While your cat’s whiskers are an adorable physical trait, they serve an important purpose. The Cat Hospital of Tucson explains that cats’ whiskers are intricate touch receptors connected to their nervous system. When your cat goes to drink water out of her bowl, her whiskers may touch the bowl and the water itself; this can stress or overstimulate kitty and lead to what is known as “whisker fatigue.” Because of whisker fatigue, cats may desire running water where the their whiskers are less likely to come into contact with something.

5. Cats Don’t Like the Bowl Placement

Cats are known to be finicky, especially about where their food and water bowls are located. WebMD explains that cats might feel uncomfortable drinking still water out of a bowl because it’s oftentimes in a corner where their backs are exposed. They like to be completely in control of their surroundings, so drinking still water in a poorly located bowl leads them to prefer running water from a faucet.

6. Cats Want to Play With It

Cats always keep you on your toes—you never know what they’ll do or how they’ll behave. So, some cats prefer running water because it’s fun to play with—if you’ve ever caught them drinking or playing with your faucet, you know it’s a cute sight! According to VetStreet, cats like to play with water because they’re more likely to drink it if it’s moving. They also love the way it splashes and paw at it frequently.


sefa ozel/iStock

Should I Get A Running Water Fountain For My Cat?

Perhaps you are now wondering if there’s a better way to offer water to your cat beyond the traditional bowl. That’s where the water fountain for cats comes in. Water fountains mimic the sound and appeal of a running water faucet and can entice your cat to drink. A water fountain might also encourage your cat to drink more. From simple auto-filling bowls to elaborate fountains with multiple streams, there’s a water fountain to match your cat’s preferred drinking style. A couple of our favorites include this flower water fountain and a more traditional steel raindrop fountain.

The Takeaway

Water is essential to your cat’s health and without it, they can become dehydrated. When they are thirsty, cats seek out running water for a variety of reasons and might skip drinking from their water bowl. If you notice your cat gravitating toward one of your faucets or refusing to drink, it might be time to rethink. Consider getting a running water fountain to prevent dehydration and tempt your cat to drink more.

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