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How Appealing is Your Cat’s Water?

Water is important to the health of your cat and how you present and serve it can have a big influence on whether kitty drinks it or rejects it. Here are six tips for making sure the water you serve is appealing:

1. Freshness of Your Cat’s Water

Refill the bowl with fresh water on a daily basis. Cats are very sensitive to taste and if the water stands too long it will start to taste stale. Food and dirt particles can accumulate in the water which can affect taste and also create opportunities for bacteria to build up. If your cat dips his paw in the water she is also contributing to the build-up of bacteria because that paw contains dirt, dust and debris from having been in the litter box.

cat drinking water

2. A Clean Bowl

Don’t just refill the water each day without washing the bowl itself. Hair, dirt, saliva and food can stick to the sides. Wash the bowl with mild dish soap and then thoroughly rinse all traces of soap from the bowl before refilling it with fresh water. Traces of dish soap can burn the cat’s tongue and will also give the water an unpleasant taste.

3. Bowl Size and Shape to Match Your Cat

The bowl you’ve chosen as kitty’s water bowl may actually be working against you. Choose a bowl that is truly cat-friendly. Your cat has long whiskers on each side of her muzzle and those whiskers are very sensitive. She doesn’t want to have to squish them in order to reach the water in the bowl. If you’ve noticed that your cat tends to dunk her paw in the water and then lick it, the reason may be that she doesn’t want to have squished whiskers. Choose a bowl that is not narrow and deep. Cats tend to prefer more shallow water (and food) bowls. Just make sure the shallow water bowl stays filled.cat looking at camera

4. Location of Your Cat’s Water Bowl

Many cat parents use divided bowls so they can put food on one side and water on the other. Although this may seem as if you’re doing something very convenient for the cat, it’s actually not beneficial. Many cats prefer not to drink water where there is the scent of food. In-between meals, your cat may prefer to be able to drink in a neutral area, away from traces of food. Additionally, with the divided dishes, food particles may fall into the water making it less appealing and allowing for the growth of bacteria.

Even if you don’t use a divided bowl don’t place the water too close to the food bowl. Choose a completely separate location in the room. In our house we have several water bowls around the house to make it very convenient for the cat.

5. Water Level

Stay consistent with maintaining the water level. Don’t let it go down to the last few drops and also, don’t fill it one day to the brim and then only mid-way the next day. Stay consistent. Some cats begin paw dipping because they aren’t sure where the top of the water is on any given day. Cats like consistency in their daily routine.

6. Make Your Cat’s Water Station Fun

If your cat likes to drink from the faucet or play with the water in his bowl, consider getting a pet water fountain. It’s a great way to encourage your cat to drink more water, it creates some extra playtime and the constant movement of the water keeps is more oxygenated.

Even if you don’t get a fountain you can create a little water fun by periodically dropping an ice cube in the water bowl, especially on very hot summer days.

Books by Pam Johnson-Bennett

We’re sorry but Pam is unable to respond to questions or remarks posted in the comment section. If you have a question about cat behavior, you can find many answers in the articles Pam writes for the website as well as in her best-selling books.