Cats can be rather fussy drinkers, unlike dogs who are happy to lap from any muddy puddle, pond or toilet bowl they happen to pass. To understand why cats prefer running water, we first need to go back to their wild African ancestors.

Wild cats

Wild cats know instinctively not to drink from standing water, which could be stagnant and potentially make them very unwell. Instead, they naturally seek out running water from streams, which they know are fresh, cool and free from contaminants.


This instinct to seek fresh, running water has been passed down through generations to our modern-day domesticated cats who, being unable to access streams, have discovered the joys of our indoor plumbing systems. You can buy special cat fountains like this one that can replicate this in your home or one for your garden that can connect to your hose.

Every day

Cats need to drink 300ml a day for optimal health so it is important that you make sure your cat has plenty of fresh water available. Feeding a wet cat food will contribute to a cat’s daily intake but they will still need additional water to maintain a healthy level of hydration. Here are some tips to help encourage your cat to drink.

Hints & tips 

A cat is unlikely to drink from a water bowl that is too close to their food bowl. This is because cats can smell water and if they can smell food at the same time it can put them off drinking. In the wild, cats would keep their food away from their water source to avoid contamination so you should position bowls at either end of a room or in an adjacent room.

Sensitive whiskers

Cats have very sensitive whiskers and can find it disconcerting if they touch the side of a water bowl. Make sure that the bowls you use are not too narrow.


Avoid stainless steel bowls as cats can be worried by their reflection in the mirrored surface.


Cats prefer to have a choice of drinking place so it’s a good idea to use a few different bowls dotted around your house in a variety of locations.

Clean & fresh

Ensure water bowls are thoroughly cleaned daily and frequently refreshed.

A special treat!

If you fancy splashing out, you can now buy special drinking fountains that offer a constant supply of fresh drinking water for pets.


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