Cat Drinking From Sink
We’ve all seen cats drinking in weird places. No, not your local dive bar. I’m talking the kitchen sink, the bathtub, that dripping faucet in your powder room — or even the toilet.

Why don’t cats simply sip out of their water bowls? There are some interesting facts behind that question. But, first, let’s get a handle on feline physiology and how it affects our cats’ drinking habits.

Water Thrifty

Cats descended from desert animals that were built to subsist on little water if necessary. Being obligate carnivores — meaning they must have meat in their diet — they take in water from their prey when they eat it. You may notice that your cat’s feces are usually somewhat dry, and if you could examine his urine in a laboratory, you would often find that it’s highly concentrated, because of his super-efficient kidneys. Those are two ways that a cat’s body is able to retain water.

Now, that doesn’t mean cats don’t need water. They do. But, according to my veterinarian colleague Dr. Deb Greco, an internal medicine specialist and feline expert par excellence, how we present it to them can be problematic.

“It’s hard for cats to get water, because they can’t really see still water well, and they may feel vulnerable sitting at a bowl, especially if it’s in a corner, so they have their back to other cats who might jump on them,” she says.

Another reason cats might be suspicious of water in a bowl is the instinct that whispers to them telling them standing water isn’t always safe. It might be contaminated, for instance. For most wild animals — and I think we can safely say that most cats are at least wild at heart — running water is a better bet.

Dr. Greco explains that cats might also prefer running water, because they can detect it with their keen sense of hearing. It’s easier for cats to find running water using sound than it is to rely on their sight to find still water. And the swift-moving stream from a faucet may be cooler and more oxygenated, improving the taste.

Whet Your Cat’s Appetite for Water

That brings us to why cats like to drink out of the tap. The sound of the "drip, drip, drip" attracts them. The water is more visible as well; cats can see the movement as the drops fall from the tap into the sink. And, heck, dripping water is just more fun to play with. How many times have you seen a cat batting at a stream of water with his paw?

The desire of cats to splash runs counter to everything we think we know about cats and water. Sure, some cats don’t like it, but many bat at running water with abandon or even swim if given the opportunity. (Wild cats, such as jaguars and tigers, are often seen swimming in rivers.) Many cats love running water so much that they teach themselves how to turn on the tap or train their humans to do it for them.

To save on your water bill, provide your cat with a pet fountain that will give him the fresh running water he enjoys. A fountain encourages a cat to drink more water, which is important for his health, especially if he eats a dry diet instead of canned food or farm-to-food-bowl mouse. More than that, it’s just plain fun.

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