Ok, this is definitely not a fun subject to discuss but if you have a cat who drinks out of the toilet, it’s something you want dealt with quickly and effectively. So why do some cats actually prefer drinking from the toilet instead of their own water bowls? For some cats, the cooler temperature of the water in the toilet vs the water in their bowl makes it more appealing. Water that has been sitting in a regular water bowl for hours or even days may not be as tasty at room temperature. I know you’re wrinkling up your nose at the idea of toilet water tasting better than water in the regular bowl but stay with me on this – we’re looking at things from a cat’s perspective.
Another reason some cats may enjoy drinking from the toilet is the water in there actually tastes fresh. This is extremely hard for a human to believe but again, look at it from a pet’s point of view. The water in the regular water bowl may have been sitting there so long that it has begun to taste stale. The water in the toilet may have more oxygen in it from recent flushing.
The Fun Factor
A cat may also develop the habit of drinking from the toilet as a result of play behavior. If there aren’t other forms of stimulation and environmental enrichment, the cat may develop an interest in watching the water swirl around whenever the toilet is flushed. That visual fascination may then lead to curiosity and she may dip a paw in the water. Some very smart cats have even learned to flush the toilet themselves.
Putting a Stop to the Behavior
So now you know why cats may drink out of the toilet. What can you do about it? We can start with common sense, for one. Make sure the toilet lid is always kept closed — even if you have to post a sign in the bathroom for other family members. Remove the temptation by making it impossible for the cat to gain access to the water in the toilet.
Next, make the water in the cat’s regular bowl more appealing by changing it daily. You can also set up a pet water fountain that will keep the water oxygenated so it’ll taste fresher longer. The pet water fountain can also help if your cat was originally interested in the toilet water as a play behavior. He can now play with the very clean water flowing from the pet water fountain.
When you change the water in the bowl daily, be sure to always wash the bowl out. Cat hair, food debris and dirt can easily cling onto the sides of the bowl. If you want to make the water as appealing as possible you can’t overlook maintaining a clean bowl.
Increase environmental enrichment so your cat has other activities to occupy his time. Engage in daily interactive play sessions, set out puzzle feeders and provide more stimulation so the toilet loses its fascination.
Need More Information?
For more specifics on increasing environmental enrichment or correcting unwanted behavior in cats, refer to any of Pam’s books, including Think Like a Cat. If you’re dealing with adult cat behavior problems, also check out the book Starting From Scratch.