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Why Do Cats Like Running Water? 6 Interesting Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Written by: Gregory Iacono

Last Updated on June 5, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat drinking from faucet

Why Do Cats Like Running Water? 6 Interesting Vet-Reviewed Reasons

VET APPROVED

Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Most cats aren’t big fans of water, especially when it comes to bathing. They typically shy away from it and many owners also seem to think that their pets don’t drink nearly as much as they should. However, there’s one water source that’s likely more enticing to your cat than most others: running water from the tap or hose.

When given the opportunity, most cats will gladly sniff, lick, and drink from running water. Some will even stick their head under it, which is unusual! The question is, why? What is it about running water that’s so attractive and enticing to your feline friend? The reason is mostly instinct; cats are drawn to running water because they’re naturally enticed by motion.

Read on as we discuss the interesting reasons that cats like running water and provide tips and insights that can help you be a better pet owner!

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The 6 Reasons Why Cats Like Running Water

1. Cats are Drawn To Movement

Cats are better at perceiving motion changes than many other animals. They are also instinctively more inclined to chase something that moves. In fact, a common survival tactic many prey use against cats is to sit perfectly still and hope that the cat loses interest in them. It goes without saying that cats would be more drawn to the movement produced by running water (whether from a fountain or from a hose) than they would from stagnant water in a bowl.

Please Note

The rest of the information is purely anecdotal speculation on why a cat may enjoy running water. The primary reason cats are drawn to running water is because, as explained above, it’s simply more “enticing” from a predatory point of view.


2. There’s Less Chance of Disease in Running Water

In the wild, cats look for running water because they know that while motionless water might look “safe,” it usually isn’t. Motionless water can carry germs, bacteria, and diseases that can make a cat very ill. It’s also where many predators sit and wait for food, including crocodiles, alligators, and other animals that can quickly eat a cat.

Nothing can sit still in running water, including bacteria and other animals, which is why cats seek it out when they need a drink. It’s possible that domestic cats have retained this intrinsic favoritism for running water for this very reason; however, this hasn’t been proven by science or research. Skeptics of this theory rightfully state that domestic cats have spent too many generations away from their wild counterparts and might not view this as a reason to avoid stagnant water.

cat drinking water from fountain
Image Credit by: Daria Kulkova, Shutterstock

3. Running Water Is Easier for a Cat to Sense

Running water, by its very nature, is easier for a cat to appreciate. It also creates a specific sound that cats (and humans) know very well. Cats can hear the water, sense its movement, and even paw at it for some stimulation. If your cat truly likes the sound, feel, and sensation of running water, consider getting a cat water fountain for your home.


4. Cats Don’t Like Sticking Their Whiskers Where There’s Too Little Space

Does your cat like to drink from the faucet but not their bowl? The bowl could be too small, and when they try to get a drink, it pushes or otherwise presses on their whiskers, which your cat might not appreciate. When taking a sip from running water, there’s no bowl to get in the way and give their whiskers any problems. That’s another big reason that cats like running water better than motionless water, and it has a simple solution: Purchase a bigger water bowl for your cat!

kitten about to drink
Image Credit: Starocean, Shutterstock

5. Splashing in Running Water Is Fun for Some Cats

You might not think of your cat as a creature that “loves the water” like a dog. However, some cats enjoy sticking their head under a running faucet or splashing their paw around in the stream. Some cats like running water so much that getting a cat water fountain is a great idea and can keep your water bills under control.


6. Your Cat’s Bowl Is in a Bad Location

Your cat might like the occasional sip of water from their water bowl. However, if you place their bowl in a bad spot, where they feel unsafe or otherwise unsatisfied, your cat might avoid their water bowl altogether. For example, most cats don’t appreciate water right next to their litter box. The solution to this situation is simple: Move your cat’s bowl to another location that’s more in line with their preferences.

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How Often Should You Change Your Cat’s Water?

Veterinarians recommend changing your cat’s water at least once a day, if not two or three times. It depends on several factors, including the heat where you live, the amount of dust and debris in the air, and the amount of water your cat typically drinks. At the very least, you should replace your cat’s water once a day. Remember to give your cat a bowl that they’re comfortable with, and ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned in between uses.

himalayan cat drinking water hepper nom nom bowl
Image Credit by: Hepper.com

Should You Get a Cat Fountain for Your Cat?

Most cats do benefit from a water fountain. For many owners, a fountain might be the perfect solution to help your cat stay better hydrated. Here are a few other reasons that you should consider getting a cat water fountain.

  • You are worried about your pet’s hydration status.
  • Your veterinarian has advised you to do so.
  • Your cat is always jumping on the kitchen or bathroom counter to get a drink when the faucet’s running.
  • You see your cat splashing the water around in their bowl.
  • Your cat never takes a drink from their bowl and looks unhappy when near it.
  • Your cat loves to splash their head and paws in running water.

Not every cat water fountain will make your life easier. This is why we recommend the well-designed Hepper Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain, which has advanced triple filtration, three different flow modes, and an automatic shutoff feature.

Hepper Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain
  • Premium 304-Grade Stainless Steel - This metal cat water fountain is hygienic, with superior...
  • Serene & Healthy Cat Drinking Fountain Experience - With whisper-quiet pumping & an advanced...
  • Say Goodbye to Dehydration - Provide your cat with a constant source of flowing water with this...

This modern, minimalist fountain runs surprisingly quietly and is very easy to clean.

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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Final Thoughts

Cats love how water stimulates their senses, and they also are possibly driven by instinct to find water that’s moving because it’s safer. Many owners find that their cats are more appreciative of a water fountain over just a water bowl. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you feel that your pet is dehydrated or not drinking enough water, your pet should definitely be seen by a veterinarian as well, as there may be another underlying reason for their refusal to drink water.


Featured Image Credit by: Sample Stars, Shutterstock

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