Cats are as unique as humans; no cat is alike. They have their individual likes and dislikes, which can sometimes be a bit ... mindboggling. Like when your beloved fluff absolutely refuses to drink out of a bowl, even though it's always full of fresh, clean water. But if you leave your glass of water unattended, your cat will have her head shoved in the glass and drinking like she's never tasted water before.
Is there a reason behind this finicky and baffling behavior? Do our cats just get a kick out of giving their owners a hard time? It turns out there are more than a few reasons your cat might be turning up their nose at the water bowl.
1. It's All About Perception
Cats actually have fairly poor depth perception: they have a blind spot right in front of their nose. This can make it difficult for them to see where the water in the bowl actually starts, resulting in a snoot full of water. This is why some cats will dip a paw in the water to test the level first.
If your cat prefers drinking from a running faucet, it might be because they can hear the running water better than they can see the still water in the bowl.
Try a circulating water fountain designed for cats that prefer running water to encourage your cat to drink more - without you having to leave the faucet running!
2. The Bowl Isn't "Just Right"
Photo: Lara Dietrich
For some finicky kitties, they won't drink from the water bowl unless it's the "purrfect" bowl. What the perfect bowl is depends on your cat, and you may have to try a few different styles to see which they prefer. Most cats tend to prefer dishes that are wide enough to accommodate their sensitive whiskers; if the bowl is too deep and narrow, it may squish or tickle their whiskers and make drinking unpleasant.
3. Location, Location, Location
Most of us naturally place our cat's food and water bowls next to each other. But this placement can actually go against a cat's natural instinct to keep food and water separate. In the wild, cats will often go to great measures to keep their food and water sources separate to avoid having the food contaminate the water.
If you notice that your cat's water bowl is too close to the food and is constantly getting dry kibbles in the fresh water dish, simply try moving the water dish. It can honestly be as simple as that!
4. They Don't Feel Safe
This is most common in multi-cat or multi-animal households. When a cat hunches over to drink, it puts them in a very vulnerable position. It opens them up to "attack" from other cats, dogs, or even rambunctious toddlers. Try moving the bowl to a "safer" location, ideally not in a corner or facing a wall.
5. Taste Matters
The water in your cat’s bowl may taste different depending on the material it’s made from, or the source of water itself. Just like many of us finicky humans might prefer to drink from plastic, ceramic, or glass, your cat may prefer ceramic or stainless steel.
Some tap water is treated with fluoride, which might taste - or smell - unpleasant to your cat. Try giving your cat bottled or filtered water to see what your cat likes best.
There are more than a few reasons your cat might be ignoring their water bowl. Do you have a cat that is picky about water? What was your water bowl solution? Let us know in the comments below!