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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Cats’ weird drinking habits

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Cats are known for their distinctive behaviors, including their interesting drinking habits. Unlike other pets, cats have specific preferences when it comes to staying hydrated, which can sometimes be puzzling for their owners. By becoming familiar with these unique behaviors, we can better comprehend their instincts and choices, ultimately promoting the health and wellbeing of our beloved feline companions.

Cats and Water: An Evolutionary Perspective

Cats are known to be selective when it comes to their water sources, a trait that can be linked to their ancestral roots. An article titled “Cats Fussy Water Drinking Habits” from the Scratch & Patch website explains that wild cats would avoid drinking near their prey in order to protect their water from contamination. This natural survival instinct has carried over to domestic cats, which is why some cats may choose not to drink water that is placed near their food bowls. This behavior helps to maintain the cleanliness and purity of their drinking water.

A cat drinks from a pool. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

Furthermore, cats have developed a biological mechanism to derive a significant portion of their hydration needs from their prey, which typically contains 70-75 per cent water. This natural adaptation may result in domestic cats, particularly those consuming wet food, consuming less water than anticipated by their caregivers. However, it is crucial to ensure access to fresh water at all times to prevent dehydration, especially for cats who are fed dry food.

Preference for Running Water

One of the most common peculiarities observed in cats is their preference for running water over still water. The Pets4Homes article “Why Does My Cat Have Weird Drinking Habits?” explains that many cats are attracted to the sound and movement of running water. This behavior likely stems from an instinctual understanding that running water is less likely to be contaminated compared to stagnant water. This is why cats often drink from taps, showers, or fountains rather than their water bowls.

Flowing water is not only a safer option for cats but also provides increased oxygenation and cooler temperatures, which can be more enticing to felines. According to Scratch & Patch, the movement and sound of running water can capture a cat’s interest and stimulate their curiosity, resulting in increased water consumption. For cats with discerning tastes when it comes to water, purchasing a cat water fountain may be a beneficial investment to promote better hydration habits.

Unusual Drinking Spots

Cats are known for their unpredictable nature, and this extends to their choice of drinking spots. It is not uncommon for cats to drink from unusual places like sinks, shower trays, or even human glasses. The Pets4Homes article notes that some cats enjoy the shallow, wide surface of a shower tray, especially if the water is at room temperature or slightly warm. This preference may also be due to the cat’s dislike of their water bowl, either because of its material or placement.

Similarly, many cats prefer drinking from glasses, particularly if the water level is high enough to avoid wetting their whiskers. Cats have very sensitive whiskers, and drinking from a deep bowl can cause discomfort, leading them to seek out alternative water sources.

Whisker Fatigue and Bowl Aversion

The sensitivity of a cat’s whiskers plays a significant role in their drinking habits. Whisker fatigue, a condition where a cat’s whiskers become overstimulated by touching the sides of a bowl, can make drinking from narrow or deep bowls uncomfortable. According to Scratch & Patch, this discomfort can lead cats to avoid their water bowls altogether. Using shallow, wide bowls made of ceramic or stainless steel can alleviate this issue and encourage your cat to drink more comfortably.

A Cat drinks from a wine glass. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

The Ritual of Pawing at Water

Some cats exhibit the peculiar habit of pawing at their water before drinking. This behavior might seem playful, but it often has practical reasons behind it. As mentioned in the Pets4Homes article, pawing at water can help cats determine the water level and ensure it is safe to drink without wetting their whiskers. It can also be a way for cats to test the water’s freshness and temperature.

Outdoor vs. Indoor Water Preferences

Many cats prefer drinking water from outdoor sources like puddles, water butts, or even by licking dew off grass. This preference for outdoor water can be baffling to owners who provide fresh water indoors. According to Pets4Homes, rainwater and other natural water sources might taste different and be more appealing to cats. Additionally, outdoor water sources mimic the natural drinking experiences of wild cats, making them more attractive to domestic cats.

Ensuring Proper Hydration

Given these quirks, ensuring your cat stays properly hydrated can be challenging but not impossible. Here are some tips to accommodate your cat’s drinking preferences:

Provide Multiple Water Sources: Place water bowls in various locations around your home, especially in quiet, low-traffic areas where your cat feels safe.

Use Different Types of Bowls: Experiment with bowls of different materials and shapes to find the one your cat prefers. Shallow, wide bowls are often the most comfortable for cats.

Keep Water Fresh: Refill water bowls daily and clean them with gentle soap and water to prevent the build-up of bacteria and debris. Fresh water is more appealing to cats.

Consider a Water Fountain: If your cat prefers running water, a cat water fountain can be a great investment. The movement and sound of the water can encourage your cat to drink more.

Separate Food and Water Bowls: Place water bowls away from food bowls to prevent contamination and make the water more appealing to your cat.

Monitor Your Cat’s Hydration: Keep an eye on your cat’s water intake and look for signs of dehydration, such as lethargy, dry gums, and decreased skin elasticity. If you suspect your cat is not drinking enough, consult your veterinarian.

Cats’ unique drinking habits are a blend of evolutionary instincts and individual preferences. Understanding these behaviors, as detailed in the articles from Pets4Homes and Scratch & Patch, can help cat owners provide better hydration solutions tailored to their feline companions. By accommodating their quirks and preferences, we can ensure our cats remain healthy and well-hydrated, while also enjoying the amusing and endearing rituals they perform around their water sources.

About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist, writer, and tutor. She has been a solo parent for 17 years now because she is the wife of Jonas Burgos, a Filipino desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.

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