Why Does My Cat Drink Out Of The Toilet?

Posted on 03 Dec 2015 20:16 by EricT

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Having a cat drinking out of the toilet bowl is a perplexing problem. Your cat has a nice full bowl of water at all times, after all. Why, then, would he insist on trying to drink out of a disgusting toilet bowl? How can you solve this problem?

Keeping the Lid Closed - Good Luck

If this is happening, you've probably learned to keep the lid closed, but with a big family, it will be left open on occasion, and if your cat has access to it, you know what may happen. Nobody wants their cat drinking that nasty water!

Is Drinking Out of the Toilet Dangerous for Cats?

Surely, toilet water is full of bacteria, and this could make your cat sick, right! Well, the danger to your cat is not really in the bacteria. Unless someone in the household has active salmonella or e coli infection, your cat can probably handle the germs fine and is unlikely to become sick because of this. The big problem is cleaning chemicals. If you use one of those automatic toilet bowl cleaners, which dispenses chemicals into the water each time you flush, this could be extremely dangerous to you cat, and could cause poisoning. Even regular cleansers may linger in the water, or on the bowl. So, yes, toilet bowl water can be very dangerous for a cat.

Reasons for Toilet Bowl Drinking

My little male cat doesn't drink out of the toilet bowl (anymore) but he does prefer to drink out of human glasses. The reasons for this are similar to why cats drink out of the toilet bowl, for the most part. If we combine the idea of a nice ice-cold glass of human drinking water to the cat's water bowl, and then to the water in the toilet bowl, we may arrive at some fairly sound conclusions.

Obviously, the water in my glass isn't like the water in a toilet bowl, but the two do have a few things in common. And both are different from the water in my cats bowl. Here are some characteristics of these alternate water sources.

  • Water in glass is ice cold.
  • Water in toilet bowl is cold.
  • Water is glass is fresh and oxygenated.
  • Water in toilet bowl is "fresh" and oxygenated from the flushing.
  • Water in glass is away from cat's food, and often in a similar place (like the end table next to the sofa)
  • Water in toilet bowl is away from cat's food, but always in the same place.

See, they are pretty much the same (slow clap). Now, I've already given you the hints as to why your cat may prefer the toilet bowl, or your water glass.


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Cats Do Not Have a Drink with Their Meal

We humans associate eating with drinking. We like to have something to drink when we eat. It helps us get our food down and compliments our meal. As well, eating makes us feel thirsty.

Place Cats Water Bowl Away from Food

Although you may see your cat drink right after he or she eats, this is just happenstance. Cats do not associate eating with drinking. To a cat, the two do not go together at all. Don't have one of those double food/water bowls. These are fine for dogs, but cats may not like to have their water near their food. And, food particles end up in the water. So, get separate bowls. Separate them at least by half a foot or more, and if needed, you may have to place them in completely different areas.

Cats Like Fresh, Clean Water

The other problem is only filling your cat's water bowl when it's nearly empty. Cats don't want to drink old, stale water any more than you do. Change the water every single day, washing it well with detergent and making sure to rinse it out completely before filling it with fresh water. Cats prefer fresh water, not water that has been standing. Toilet water may not be clean by human standards, but is fresher tasting, probably, than that stale water that has been sitting in a tiny bowl for days. Some people will say that cats do not care and will drink any old nasty water, as if they drink out of the toilet bowl instead of their own bowl for no reason at all. If the water tasted like a moldy mud puddle, though, your cat probably would not drink from it, unless she had no other choice.

Speaking of tiny bowls, you may need a larger one.


cat with glass of ice water to drink

Ah, nothing like a nice, tall glass of ice water!


The Interest Factor, Flushing, Gurgling, and Other Fun Things

Before we move on, some cats are also attracted to the toilet because it they like to play in the water, they can see reflections, and, they may have heard and seen the water being flushed. It swooshes, and gurgles, and makes other noises. Pretty exciting, and enticing, stuff. It may remind the inner wild-cat of flowing streams or bubbling springs, perhaps in the African Savannah, where such a thing was a matter of life or death. No, I'm not saying your cat remembers a past life. Just that moving and flowing water may be attractive on an instinctual level. You could even go so far as to speculate that, to your cat, the toilet bowl makes more sense as a source of drinking water than a tinly bowl of standing water right next to his food.

Cat Drinking Out of Faucet

You may even have one of those faucet cats, you know, the ones who love to drink out of a dripping faucet. The water is super fresh, after all, and it has an added feature of "funness." This is often addressed as if it is a separate problem from toilet drinking, but, even if a cat chooses one and not the other, the underlying reasons re much the same. It may be fun to see your cat with his face under the faucet, lapping up the running water, but it won't be funny if your cat goes to the faucet at 3 a.m. and meows loudly for you to turn it on.

Cat Drinking Fountain

Although this may not work for all cats, there are cat water fountains, complete with charcoal filter, that continually recirculate and filter the water, keeping it freshly oxygenated and clean. Many cats will be naturally attracted to this and it may solve all sorts of alternate drinking problems. Be aware that if your cat is nervous or timid, he or she may be frightened by this circulating water. But, for a cat who is attracted to the toilet bowl, or the faucet, because of the noise and movement, a pet water fountain may be just what the doctor ordered.

If your purchase a water fountain but your cat still goes for the toilet, you may have to make a concerted effort to keep the lid closed and move the water fountain close to the toilet. Likewise, if your cat goes for the kitchen sink or faucet, you may need to place the fountain on the counter. Move it a a bit closer to the desired location each day, and hopefully kitty will follow it until it ends up in the right place. Some brands of circulating water bowls for cats to check out are:

  • Drinkwell Pet Water Fountain
  • Petmate Fresh Flow Fountain
  • Pioneer Pet Drinking Fountain (shown here)

We must realize that cats do not really require much water each day. An average cat will drink perhaps eight ounces of water a day, if not less. A cat who is fed dry food will drink more water than one who is fed wet canned food, simply because canned food contains more water than dry. Your cat may not be going for the toilet only due to thirst. Do not discount the interest factor. He may simply be playing in the water, and taking an occasional lap at it. You'll have to provide interesting alternatives. A running faucet is certainly better, but if you turn on the faucet any time your cat wants, you'll regret it!

Does Your Cat Prefer His Water Chilled?

Some cats like their water cold. This is why my little cat likes to drink out of our glasses. They are full of ice cold water. You can keep a filter pitcher in the refrigerator and fill your cat's clean bowl from this. You can also put an ice cube or two in the water. This will not only chill the water but has the added advantage of releasing oxygen into the water as the ice melts. Even if you don't want to continually refill the water bowl several times a day, you can drop in a fresh ice cube when you're in the vicinity.

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