You keep a full water bowl for you cat, right next to her food dish, yet she could care less about that water. All day it sits in the bowl, but as soon as you jump in the shower, there she is, peeking her head in to catch a few drops. Afterward, she might even jump in the shower and lap up any leftover pools, which is sort of gross.
Running the kitchen or bathroom faucet illicit the same activity from your cat and you might wonder what her deal is. Every day, I wash out the water bowls in my home and provide clean, filtered water to my cats, but they don’t seem to drink from it.
The truth about cats and water is that they need much less water than other mammals. This is because they evolved in desert and savannah regions of the world before migrating elsewhere. Their environments were harsh, and water was not plentiful, so they developed the ability to take less water. A cat’s evolutionary and instinctual backgrounds also indicate why a cat prefers the faucet and shower water; it’s certainly not a matter of taste.
From an instinctual point of view, running water is always considered healthier than stagnant water. When your cat refuses the fresh, clean water in her bowl to the over-chlorinated, harsher water of the faucet, she recalls a deeply ingrained instinct. If given a choice in the wild between a running stream and stagnant pool of water, the cat will always choose the running water.
The water out of the faucet is not usually healthy, and many of us add filters to special taps. If you have a cat who likes the drink from the faucet and you have an accessible filtered faucet, there’s no harm in letting her drink from the faucet. However, try to discourage non-filtered, hard water drinking. Hard water contains chemical and minerals that might lead to painful kidney and bladder stones over time.
One of the solutions I have come up with for my finicky faucet drinker is to slowly steam fresh filtered water into my cat’s bowl at her side. She sees, hears, and feels the stream and will often lap up a few seconds of water. She is also more likely to drink from the bowl in the next few minutes as well. The extra time it takes, though not significant in length, can help set your cat up for her water-thrifty day.