Why Do Cats Drink Out of the Toilet? 6 Vet Approved Reasons

White and grey cat drinking in the toilet bowl in a bathroom
Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo

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Cats are known for being fastidiously clean, so it may come as quite a surprise to find your precious feline lapping from the toilet bowl. Unsettling as this may be, it’s important to understand why they might be doing it. Let’s dive into five common reasons that might explain this peculiar feline behavior.

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The 6 Reasons Cats Drink Out of the Toilet

1. They Are Attracted to Cool Water

Cats have a natural preference for cooler water, and the porcelain toilet bowl naturally helps keep the water at a lower temperature than a typical metal or plastic pet dish. It’s like a naturally chilled drinking spot that can be hard for a cat to resist.

But what can we do to counteract this toilet temptation? A simple way to break this habit is to offer your cat a similarly cool and refreshing alternative. Consider investing in a ceramic or glass bowl for your cat’s water.

These materials retain coolness similar to porcelain and are more appealing to cats compared to plastic or metal. Also, consider popping a few ice cubes into their water bowl during warmer days to keep the water cool.

Abyssinian Cat on the toilet bowl
Image Credit: Seregraff, Shutterstock

2. Toilet Water Seems Fresher to Your Cat

The regular flushing of a toilet introduces oxygen into the water, making it taste fresher. From a cat’s perspective, the toilet mimics a flowing stream—a source of fresh, clean water in the wild. There is also often very slight movement in the water’s surface, especially if you have a toilet that keeps running!

To simulate this freshness and keep your cat away from the toilet, consider investing in a cat water fountain. The continuous flow of water in a fountain mimics a stream, providing constantly refreshed and oxygenated water, enticing your cat to drink from it.


3. Your Cat Is Entertained by the Toilet’s Flush

Toilet flushing can be an exciting spectacle for cats. The swirling water and the rush of the flush can serve as a source of entertainment, and the resulting fresh water becomes a tempting drinking source.

This can cause other problems if your cat learns how to flush the toilet themselves, as many have done, racking up a huge water bill!

Keep your cat stimulated with other forms of entertainment. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and regular playtime can help divert their attention from the toilet. The more entertained they are, the less likely they’ll resort to the toilet for amusement.


4. They Prefer Separate Feeding and Drinking Areas

In the wild, cats would keep their food and water sources separate to avoid potential contamination. If your cat’s water dish is too close to their food, they might opt for the toilet instead.

Try to use separate areas for your cat’s food and water. Having several water stations in different parts of your home can encourage your cat to drink from these spots rather than resort to the toilet.

grey cat near water bowl
Image Credit: Vera_Chan, Shutterstock

5. The Cat’s Water Bowl Is Not Clean Enough

Cats are notorious for their cleanliness. If their water bowl isn’t clean, they may reject it and choose a seemingly cleaner source like the toilet bowl. Ensure you clean your cat’s water bowl daily to keep it appealing. Rinse it thoroughly to remove any residue or old food particles that may have fallen in.

By keeping their bowl clean and fresh, your cat will be more inclined to use it. Remember, your cat’s standards for cleanliness might be higher than your own, so a clean bowl is paramount in encouraging proper hydration habits.


6. They Have a Health Condition

Health problems such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease, or diabetes can cause your cat to drink excessively. In these cases, you may notice that they are drinking from their bowls, the sink, dripping taps, and the toilet.

If your cat is not just drinking from the toilet, but is drinking more in general, it is important to get them checked by a vet.

cat at vet with owner and veternarian
Image Credit: 4 PM production, Shutterstock

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Potential Risks: Why Toilet Water Is Not Ideal for Cats

While the toilet water itself may seem clean, it can harbor various microorganisms like E. coli, that are not particularly healthy for your pet. Additionally, any cleaning agents, such as bleach or commercial toilet cleaners, can be highly toxic to cats. Therefore, it’s crucial to curb this habit to safeguard your feline friend’s health.

The most obvious solution to this unfortunate habit is to keep the toilet lid down, but as many household arguments have proven, this is not always the easiest rule to enforce. It also doesn’t address the issue of why your cat is seeking this alternative water source.

So let’s take a look at some things you should be doing to keep your kitty’s chin up, and out of that porcelain bowl.

tricolor tabby cat in the toilet peeks into the toilet bowl
Image Credit: Galina-Photo, Shutterstock

Tips to Keep Your Cat Healthy, Happy, and out of your Toilet

Keeping your feline companion healthy and happy isn’t just about providing food, water, and a warm place to sleep. Cats have unique behavioral and physical needs that should be met to ensure their well-being. Here are some valuable tips to help you keep your cat not only healthy but also purring with happiness.

Regular Vet Checkups

Regular vet checkups are crucial for keeping your cat healthy. These visits allow your vet to monitor your cat’s health over time and catch any potential health issues early, making treatment easier and more effective.

Adequate Nutrition

Feeding your cat a balanced, high-quality diet is vital to maintain their health. Consult with your vet about the best type of food for your cat’s breed, age, and health status. Also, ensure fresh water is always available.

man holding cat in vet clinic
Image Credit: VGstockstudio, Shutterstock

Regular Exercise

Just like humans, cats need regular exercise to stay healthy. Playing with your cat not only helps them stay in shape but also strengthens your bond with them and keeps them mentally stimulated.

Mental Stimulation

Cats are intelligent creatures and require mental stimulation. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and environmental enrichment, such as climbing trees or perches, can help keep your cat’s mind sharp. If you don’t have the floor space for a good sized cat tree, look into some options for wall and ceiling-mounted cat shelves and platforms that will keep your kitty occupied and exercised.

Grooming

Regular grooming is essential, especially for long-haired cats. Brushing helps to prevent matting and hairballs, and it can be a wonderful bonding activity. Plus, it allows you to check for any skin issues or external parasites.

close up of pet hair brush with pet fur clump after grooming cat
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

Dental Care

Don’t overlook your cat’s dental health. Dental disease can lead to a host of other health problems. Use specially designed cat toothbrushes and toothpaste to keep their teeth clean and healthy. Regular vet checkups will also include dental examinations.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your cat stays healthy and content and lives a long, happy life. Remember, each cat is unique and may require different care, so always consult with your vet for personalized advice.

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Conclusion

Understanding why cats drink from the toilet can help you better cater to their hydration needs while discouraging this potentially harmful behavior. By making slight adjustments to their environment, providing a fresher water source, or simply adding some fun distractions, you can ensure your pet stays both hydrated and entertained—without resorting to toilet water!


Featured Image Credit: Olivia Lorot, Shutterstock

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