Cat Will Only Drink Water From The Tap Or The Toilet

by j.s.
(San Diego, Ca, USA)

My cat is driving me crazy!!! He meows all night to have me turn on the tap or if I get up to pee, he waits for me to flush and pounces on the toilet!

He seems to enjoy the tap running over his head while he drinks, but this is a waste of water and my time.

I have tried the fountains and he loses interest rapidly, I put ice cubes in his dish of water thinking that he likes the coolness of the porcelain.


Reply from Liz (Editor): This cat behavior isn't uncommon, but I appreciate how frustrating it can be.

Some cats develop a fascination for running water when they're sick - e.g. when they have kidney problems. If this behavior has suddenly started out of the blue, I'd suggest getting him checked over by a vet. However, if it's something he's always done, it's more likely to be behavioral.

Many cats like running water to drink, I believe because they perceive it to be fresh... it's a throwback to being in the wild.

Water fountains often solve this problem, but in your cat's case, from what you've told me, I think he does like the running water, but also likes the attention he's getting from you as he tries to get you up in the night and makes a beeline for the sink and toilet whilst you're there.

I'd suggest re-training him so he learns he's not going to get what he wants every time you go into the bathroom.

First and foremost, don't get up in the night just to get him a drink from the running tap. He needs to learn that meowing through the night won't get him what he wants. Do whatever you have to do to resist this, even if it means wearing earplugs for a few weeks. If you don't give in, he will learn that meowing for this is pointless and he should stop.

If you do get up for a pee in the night, I'd suggest shutting him out of the bathroom, again ignoring whatever noise he makes. This, combined with the above, will teach him that he's not going to get these treats overnight.

As he likes drinking out of the tap so much, I think you can indulge him now and again during the day, even if it's only once for a few minutes. But I'd suggest not letting him stand there for ages - a couple of minutes at the most should be plenty, then the tap goes off!

Don't worry about him not getting enough to drink - I would be really surprised if he doesn't drink out of his bowl when he gets thirsty enough. You could try floating a couple of plastic balls in his water bowl - some cats enjoy batting these around the bowl and it may just distract him from the sink and toilet!

Best of luck and thank you for your question.

Comments for Cat Will Only Drink Water From The Tap Or The Toilet

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It's better if your cat drinks from the tap than not at all
by: AuPurr

I had a client whose adopted kitty would run from faucet to faucet when I would arrive for cat care. I would indulge him and let him drink what he wanted, and he also had a water fountain. When the client was advised about this behavior, she said "Oh yes, it drives me nuts so I want to break this habit. Next time don't do it." I have to admit I wasn't happy about this but it was her cat and she "is" the client. About 6 months later she called for new service and advised that the cat "now" is permitted to drink wherever he wants, per the Vet. It seems the cat went into dehydration from lack of water and got very sick.
The vet said let this cat drink from the tap if that's the best way to make sure he gets lots of water. As far as I was concered, the cat (and I) won!

To AuPurr - thank you for your comment
by: Liz (editor)

Thank you for your comment - I have never come across this before. I always believed whenever a cat (or any animal) got thirsty enough instinct would kick in and it would drink whatever water was available, but obviously in the situation you mention that wasn't the case.

I'd therefore revise what I said to j.s. based on this, if your cat will just not drink from anywhere other than the tap to the point where you think he could make himself ill, then you may need to give in to him, and maybe try to "wean" him off the tap rather than doing it all at once. You should at least be able to train him not to meow during the night for water, even if it means allowing him to have a drink from the tap before bed.

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