Have you wondered why it seems your cat refuses to drink from her water bowl but will lap up all she can get from a running faucet?
The easy answer, as always, goes back to cats’ lives in the wild. Since they have been domesticated far fewer years than dogs, they have more traits that have not been bred out over the years. Many of their behaviors come from their days in the wild when jungle survival depended upon cats’ instincts and predatory nature.
Here’s how it relates to the ancient cat: Any food they have eaten is their prey, so any water near the dead animal can possibly be contaminated with bacteria from that prey which will make them ill. That is why they will look elsewhere to find a clean, clear running stream where they can quench their thirst after eating.
Translating this to modern times: The fresh, running water from the bathroom faucet is considered safer and healthier than the stagnant water in the water bowl which sits next to Kitty’s prey, be it canned food or dried kibble. Cats are very intelligent creatures. It is these wildcat instincts that have helped them to evolve, ensuring their survival all the way from ancient jungles into our modern homes.
What is interesting about their short history (comparatively) of domestication is how close genetically they are to their modern cousins, the African and European wildcats. The genetic differences between them are predominantly in color and other superficial variations that have resulted from selective breeding which has produced the many popular breeds of cats we see today.
Cats’ instincts impel them to search for sources of clean and safe water that is not near their food source. For this reason, they will drink from your glass or any faucet from the sink to the bathtub. Even the toilet bowl is considered safe since it is typically far away from the food bowl.
Since cats started as desert animals, they can survive for long periods without water. At the same time, we cat owners know that water is crucial for their survival. We want to ensure they have as much access to water as possible. If you are worried that Kitty may not be getting enough water, the simple solution is to consider this instinctive need for distance between their prey and their water.
The easiest, best remedy is the obvious one: move the darn water bowl!! Move it at least 10 feet from the food bowl, preferably to the opposite side of the room or somewhere else in the house, altogether. It is amusing to think that those who buy those running water fountains think their cats are too afraid of them to drink--when that is not the case. Move it to another area and watch what happens!
Remember, it is very important to make certain your cat is getting enough water. You may try to add extra water to their canned food. If they are kibble eaters, you can speak to your vet about how to introduce some wet food into their diet.
You may want to try this experiment: Place various water bowls at different locations in the home—but not near their food. By checking the levels on the water bowls, you can figure out where Kitty prefers to drink. Follow up by putting the water bowl there. Hopefully, you will have established a new drinking spot where Kitty is happy, and you will know she is getting all the water she needs.
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