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Why Do Cats Drink Out of the Toilet? 6 Reasons & Vet-Reviewed Solutions

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on July 12, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat gets into the toilet close up

Why Do Cats Drink Out of the Toilet? 6 Reasons & Vet-Reviewed Solutions

VET APPROVED

Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

Veterinarian, BVSc MRCVS

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

Learn more »

Cats drinking out of toilets can be unpleasant, but it does happen. If you have a cat that loves to drink out of the toilet, you likely have questions, such as, “Why me?!”

We’re here to help. Here are the reasons that your cat is likely drinking toilet water and tips for stopping this behavior.

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The 6 Reasons Why Cats Drink Out of the Toilet

Let’s first discuss why cats drink out of toilets in the first place. It’s always best to understand the behavior before attempting to modify it. Here are six possible reasons:

1. They Don’t Think of it as a Toilet

Although some cats are savvy to the purpose of the giant water fountain in the bathroom, many cats will not necessarily equate our toilet to their litter box. Hence, the idea of drinking from this water supply seems perfectly reasonable.


2. Cooler Water

Toilets are typically made from porcelain, which works well at keeping the water cool. Many cat water bowls are made from plastic, glass, or ceramic, and these materials don’t keep the water as cool as porcelain.

Cute cat sitting on toilet bowl with rolls of paper
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

3. Fresh Water

To us, toilet water is as far from fresh as water gets, but for cats, it can be fresher than what they have in their water bowl.

The constant flushing causes water oxygenation, which helps freshen up the water supply, making it more appealing for pets.


4. Pure Fascination

We all know how curious cats are, so it’s no wonder that they can be fascinated by watching the water swirl down the drain.

If your cat seems interested in water (like playing with it in the bowl or when running from a faucet), they are likely interested in playing with toilet water too, which can lead to drinking it.

black and white cat sitting on the toilet bowl
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

5. Location, Location, Location

When cats are having a drink, they often feel quite exposed. Your toilet bowl may simply be in a nice, low traffic area where they can keep their back to the wall whilst enjoying a quiet drink. Take a look at the location of your cat’s food and water – if they’re in a busy location, or they might feel exposed while having a drink, it might be worth considering a new spot.


6. Health Issues

Polydipsia (excessive water drinking) may be a sign of a number of health conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease, infection, or hyperthyroidism. If your cat is constantly in search of water, the toilet bowl will be as good a place as any. Cats with polydipsia will often drink from anywhere they can find water; the toilet, dripping faucets, puddles, the shower, or drinking glasses.

If you suspect your cat might be polydipsic, make an appointment for a check up with the vet. They will likely want to run some blood and urine tests to see what is causing your cat’s increased thirst.

female vet checking up a maine coon cat
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

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The 8 Ways to Stop Your Cat Drinking From the Toilet

1.  Figure Out the Water Temperature

Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water in your toilet – don’t forget to thoroughly disinfect it afterwards! You can then compare this temperature to that of your cat’s drinking water, and see whether you need to cool things down. The easiest way to achieve this is by using ceramic bowls placed in areas that stay shaded all day, and refresh the water at least once a day. In warm conditions, an ice cube or two can really make a difference.


2. Try a New Location

Consider the location of your cat’s water bowl – is it in a busy area? Is it right next to their food bowl? Do they feel vulnerable when drinking?

When cats are drinking and eating, they may feel exposed, so place their bowls in a quiet location where they are able to keep an eye on their surroundings.

Cats will also avoid water bowls kept right beside their food. This comes from their wild ancestry, where they would avoid water that may be contaminated by a carcass, so separate their water bowl from their food bowls by at least 2-3 feet.

siamese kitten eating from a stainless bowl
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

3.  Offer Multiple Water Bowls

Royal Canin study found that cats preferred to drink from several different sources of water. This means you should place multiple bowls of water in various areas around the home.

This study additionally found that most cats gravitated to small drinking bowls of 6 inches or smaller. Either way, placing bowls in different locations will give your cat better options than the toilet.


4.  Keep the Bowls Clean

It’s essential to keep your cat’s water bowl(s) clean. This means washing the bowls every day and filling them to the brim with fresh, clean water. Cleaning them twice a day would be even better.

If the water is stagnant, your cat won’t want to drink it and will gravitate toward the toilet. Use unscented soap and give the bowls a thorough rinsing.

Washing animal food bowls under the tap in the kitchen sink
Image Credit: MargaPI, Shutterstock

5.  Purchase Porcelain Bowls

Since toilets are made of porcelain and do such a great job at keeping the water cold, consider getting a water bowl made out of porcelain for your cat. Be sure to clean it every day.

If this doesn’t seem to make much difference, try other bowls made with different materials; stainless steel, ceramic, or glass are all good options.


6.  Try a Water Fountain

Since cats are drawn to running water, a great option is to get a cat water fountain. The water will be in constant circulation, allowing for oxygenation. A fountain is an excellent option for cats that only want to drink from running faucets. It will also be easier than keeping multiple bowls that need multiple cleaning around your home. Get a sturdy, quiet fountain that is not easily knocked over.

Cats can be very curious and particular about many things, including water. The right water fountain can provide your cat with clean, fresh water and keep them visually engaged. A nicely made product like Hepper's Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain will encourage your cat to stay hydrated and entertained by providing fresh, flowing water. 

Hepper Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain
  • Premium 304-Grade Stainless Steel - This metal cat water fountain is hygienic, with superior...
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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!


7.  Close the Lid

The simplest solution is to just keep the toilet lid closed. After all, most toilets have lids, which are meant to keep the water covered. In fact, it’s highly recommended that you always close the lid before you flush. Research shows that putting the toilet lid down before flushing reduces airborne particles by 50% . Make sure everyone in your home abides by the same rule. Put up a sign if necessary!


8.  Play With Your Cat

Your cat might be bored, so they decide to play in and drink from the toilet. If you play with your cat often and provide them with interactive toys, such as kicker toys and puzzle feeders, your cat might not be as drawn to the toilet.

woman-playing-with-her-cat
Image Credit: Kmpzzz, Shutterstock

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What’s Wrong With Letting Your Cat Drink From the Toilet?

Bacteria and other pathogens can make your toilet bowl their home, most notably E. coli, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, which can cause illness in your pet. In addition to harmful microorganisms, the products we use to clean our toilet bowls can be harmful as well. Bleach and other detergents can cause mild to severe reactions if ingested, and this is a particular risk with products that stay in the bowl, like bleach tablets or hanging toilet cleaners.

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Conclusion

Your best bet is to just close the lid of your toilet before you flush, every time. This will stop your cat from getting into the water, and you won’t be spreading germs and bacteria around. Remember to ensure that everyone who lives in the household does the same, which we know can be quite a battle in itself!

But if your cat seems more than a little interested in toilet water, it’s worth taking note and working out why. Water fountains are often the best way to keep your cat drinking their own water instead of dipping into your toilet bowl, but make sure you place it somewhere quiet, away from their food, and where they can keep one eye on their surroundings.

Otherwise, try using different bowls in multiple locations, and clean and refill them twice a day. One of these ideas is bound to work, and hopefully, you’ve seen your cat drink from the toilet for the last time!

If your cat seems to be drinking more than they used to, get in touch with your vet, as there may be a serious reason why.

See Also: 


Featured Image Credit: Vera Aksionava, Shutterstock

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