Why Does My Cat Like to Drink From the Faucet?

  • Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.

Cats can do some baffling stuff, and their drinking habits aren’t excluded. Your cat has a cool, clean bowl of fresh water, but she seems to crave running water from the tap.  So, why are cats drawn to the running water of a faucet, and should you continue to let her quench her thirst this way? Here’s what the experts say about why your cat wants to drink from the faucet.

How Much Water Should My Cat Drink?

Before we trickle down the reasons your cat might be drinking from the faucet, let’s explore how much water your cat should be drinking day-to-day. There are lots of factors that can play a role here—from the type of food your cat is eating to the environment you and your kitty live in. But, says PetMD, a general role of thumb is that your cat’s water intake in milliliters (mL) should match their caloric intake.

Cats on wet food diets and dry kibble have different hydration requirements—wet cat food contains a higher amount of water, and naturally, dry crunchies have less. You’ll need to do a little math to determine just how much your individual cat needs, and this PetMD article about how much water cats need to drink is a great resource to learn how to crunch the numbers.

If you have concerns that your cat is not drinking enough water and it’s accompanied by other unusual symptoms or behaviors, it’s time to consult your vet.

Tabby cat drinking water


Why Does My Cat Drink From the Faucet?

Now we know how much water your cat needs to be happy and healthy, why is she choosing the running faucet over her bowl? Here are four possible reasons your cat wants to slurp from the sink.

1. It’s Your Cat’s Instincts

Believe it or not, your lounging loaf descends from fierce desert hunters. These desert hunters got most of their water from prey. When they needed a little extra hydration, it’s a running water source that is cleaner and safer. These feline instincts have inspired pet owners to provide their not-so-wild cats with kitty water fountains that mimic the running waters their ancestors once ruled.

2. Your Cat Has Whisker Fatigue

It may sound funny (“whisker fatigue, really?”) but if your cat is experiencing whisker fatigue, the effects are not. According to Cat Hospital of Tucson, “whisker fatigue can actually be a problem that makes your cat act completely different than usual. This condition is one that can cause problems like lack of appetite, changes in mood and behavior, and a lot of stress for your kitty.”

Simply put, whisker fatigue is caused by the overstimulation of the whiskers. When your cat’s whiskers brush up against the sides of her food or water bowl, they send sensory messages to the brain. Too many messages, and your cat could become agitated and refuse food or water from her usual bowls. To avoid whisker fatigue, swap small, high-sided bowls with wide, shallow ones.

3. Your Cat’s Water Bowl Is in the Wrong Location

It’s not true for all kitties, but some cats prefer to drink in a location away from their food, and others don’t like dining or drinking around other cats in the household.

So, your cat might prefer drinking from the faucet simply because her water bowl is in an undesirable location.

International Cat Care recommends placing kitty’s water bowl in a low-traffic, quiet spot—and not next to the litter box, or their regular food bowl.

If you want to discourage the habit, try offering your cat multiple bowls or fountains throughout the house for easy access, stress-free hydration.

4. Your Cat’s Bowl Isn’t Fresh and Clean

You don’t like to drink stale water from a dirty glass, and the same applies to your kitty. She could be turning up her nose at her bowl and heading to the faucet for fresh water, straight from the source.

To keep her bowl fresh and germ-free, vets recommend cleaning the water bowl every day or two, using hot water and dish soap. When refreshing her bowl, International Cat Care recommends pouring room temperature water in place of cold (cold water has less taste)—and fill it right up to the brim.

Cat drinking water from bowl


Should I Stop My Cat Drinking From the Faucet?

If your cat isn’t displaying other changes in behavior, there’s really no harm in letting her lap from the faucet. If you would rather her not drink from the faucet, trying mimicking the drinking conditions. Start by placing a water fountain near the preferred sink or bathtub.

If it seems your cat likes to be up high and away from her food while drinking, slowly move the fountain to a convenient location that satisfies her needs. The most important thing is that your kitty continues to drink her allotted amount of H2O, so be sure to monitor for any changes.

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