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Why Do Cats Like Running Water? 6 Interesting Reasons

Cats aren’t big fans of water, whether for swimming, drinking, bathing, etc. Most cats shy far away from water and don’t drink nearly as much as they should. They also need less water than many other animals. There’s one water source that’s more enticing to your cat than most others: running water from the tap or hose.

When given the opportunity, most cats will gladly sniff, lick and drink from running water. Some will even stick their head under running water, which is unusual for a cat! The question is, why? What is it about running water that’s so attractive and enticing to your feline friend? The reason is mostly instinct! But read on to find out exactly why. We’ll discuss six interesting reasons why cats like running water below, plus tips and insights that can help you be a better pet owner!


The 6 Reasons Why Cats Like Running Water

1. There’s Less Chance of Disease in Running Water

In the wild, cats look for running water, knowing that motionless water, while it might look “safe,” usually isn’t. Motionless water can carry germs, bacteria, and diseases that can make a cat very ill. Also, motionless water is where many beasts of prey sit and wait for food, including crocodiles, alligators, and other animals that can quickly eat a cat.

Nothing can sit still in running water, including bacteria and other animals, which is why cats seek it out when they need a drink. It’s also why you should change your cat’s water frequently throughout the day.

cat drinking water from fountain
Image Credit: Daria Kulkova, Shutterstock
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2. Running Water Is Easier for a Cat to Sense

Surprisingly, many cats have trouble seeing the water in a bowl after it becomes motionless. Running water, by its very nature, is easier for a cat to see. Plus, running water creates a specific sound that cats (and humans) know very well. Cats can hear the water, sense its movement, and feel the temperature. If your cat truly likes the sound, feel, and sensation of running water, consider getting a cat water fountain for your home.

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3. Running Water Has a Better Taste Than Still Water

Like humans, cats can taste water; even though it doesn’t have a strong taste, they know when it tastes “bad.” Water that sits motionless in one place, either a stream, lake, or your cat’s bowl, will begin to collect sediment, dust particles, insects, and other debris, all of which can taint the water and change its flavor.

Running water, however, never gets a chance to sit and become contaminated, and thus usually has a taste that your cat will enjoy more. If your cat isn’t drinking enough water, changing the water in its bowl more frequently might be an easy solution to the problem.

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4. Cats Don’t Like Sticking their Whiskers Where There’s Too Little Space

Does your cat like to drink from the faucet but not its bowl? Its bowl could be too small, and when it tries to get a drink, it pushes or otherwise presses on its whiskers, which most cats genuinely despise. When taking a sip from running water, there’s no bowl to get in the way and give their whiskers any problems. That’s another big reason cats like running water better than motionless water, and it has a simple solution; purchase a bigger water bowl for your cat.

kitten about to drink
Image Credit: Starocean, Shutterstock
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5. Splashing in Running Water Is Fun for Some Cats

You might not think of your cat as a creature that “loves the water” like a dog. However, some cats enjoy sticking their head under a running faucet or splashing their paw around in the stream. Some cats like running water so much that getting a cat water fountain is a great idea and can keep your water bills under control.

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6. Your Cat’s Bowl Is in a Bad Location

Your cat might like the occasional sip of water from its water bowl. However, if you place its bowl in a bad spot where it feels unsafe or otherwise unhappy, your cat might avoid their water bowl altogether. For example, some cats hate having their backs exposed while drinking. If you place your cat’s bowl in a corner where it has no choice but to expose its back while it drinks, it might stay away from the bowl and drink from the faucet. The solution to this situation is simple; move your cat’s bowl so that they can protect their back while they drink.

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What Is “Whisker Fatigue?”

We talked earlier about how cats don’t like it when their whiskers touch their water bowl. When this happens too often, a cat can develop what’s known as “whisker fatigue,” which leaves them overstimulated and stressed out. The solution to whisker fatigue can include getting a cat water fountain or a bigger bowl for your cat, but most will drink running water in the meantime because it’s least likely to touch their whiskers while they do.

How Often Should You Change Your Cat’s Water?

Veterinarians recommend changing your cat’s water at least once a day, if not two or three times. It depends on several factors, including the heat where you live, the amount of dust and debris in the air, and the amount of water your cat typically drinks. If they drink a lot, change their water more frequently, and vice versa. Remember to give your cat a bowl big enough so that, when they drink, their whiskers don’t have to touch anything, including the water.

himalayan cat drinking water hepper nom nom bowl

Should You Get a Cat Fountain for Your Cat?

Most cats like to drink running water, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your cat needs a water fountain. However, if they genuinely love drinking running water and avoiding their bowl, a fountain might be the perfect solution to help your cat stay hydrated. Below are a few other reasons that you should consider getting a cat water fountain.

  • Your cat is suffering from a condition that affects its kidneys
  • Your cat has frequent UTIs
  • Your cat is always jumping on the kitchen or bathroom counter to get a drink when the faucet’s running
  • You see your cat splashing the water around in its bowl
  • Your cat never takes a drink from its bowl and looks unhappy when near it
  • Your cat loves to splash its head and paws in running water

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Final Thoughts

Cats love how water stimulates their senses, and they also are driven by instinct to find water that’s moving because it’s safer. Cats hate it when water (and other things) touch or disturb their whiskers, which is another reason they prefer running water. The solution to most of these situations is to allow your cat to drink from the faucet occasionally, change the water in its bowl more frequently, and purchase a cat water fountain for your cat(s) to drink from. Whichever solution you choose, we hope your fancy feline gets the water it needs every day to stay healthy, happy, and hydrated.

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Featured Image Credit: Sample Stars, Shutterstock