Cat With Water Bowl

Why Won't My Cat Drink Water? Tips, Reasons, and Solutions


One of the biggest struggles for cat owners is finding a bowl that their feline will drink from.

But is there a reason behind this finicky behavior or do cats simply enjoy giving their owners a hard time?

As it turns out, there are a few reasons why your cat might be shunning their water bowl.

Running water is better than still.

When it comes to water, running is always better than still. One theory behind this is that cats instinctively may be wary of still water since stagnant water isn't always safe to drink in the wild. Another potential theory is that hunching over a bowl to drink is simply more uncomfortable than drinking from a faucet.


When a cat is hunched over a water dish, it puts them in a more vulnerable position to be pounced on by another animal. Cats may also simply find that moving water tastes better!

Big Cat Drinking Water

It's all about location.

When it comes to placement of the water bowl, some cats don't drink out of it if it's too close to their cat food. This is because in the wild, cats go to great measures to keep their food and water sources separate to avoid having the food contaminate the water.

Many cats also don't like their water to smell like their food, which can happen if the water and food bowls are too close together. Try moving your cat's water dish away from his food dish to see if he's more willing to drink water.


Cat Drinking

New is always better than old.

I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want to drink water from a cup that had been sitting out for hours or even days, right? Well, neither does your cat. We all love freshwater.

The longer your cat's water bowl sits out, the more dirt, dust, and bacteria will accumulate on the surface of the water as well as in it. This is especially true for cats that enjoy playing with the water in their water bowls. Clean your cat's water dish and add plenty of fresh, clean water daily.

Dry Dog Food

There's not enough water (or there's too much).

Cats truly are creatures of habit, and this extends to their water intake preferences as well. When you fill your cat's bowl, try and keep the amount of water consistent from day to day.


If your cat is unsure whether the water is right at the top of the bowl or just barely filling the bottom they may have to put their paw in to test and see. Once this happens they may not even want to drink the water as it's been "contaminated" by their own paw.

Dry Cat Food

Bowl shape and size matters.

The shape and size of a water bowl can also play a big role in the reason why your cat won't drink from it. One of the biggest reasons why cats don't like particular bowls is that their sensitive whiskers get squished when they try and drink.

Due to this, large, shallow bowls seem to be most preferred.


Cat Eating On The Floor

There's no shortage of reasons why your cat may not be drinking out of their bowl, but what can you do about it? In addition to fixing the issues mentioned above, you might have to test several water bowls for your cat to see which they like best. If your cat refuses to drink still water out of a tradition bowl, there are a number of fountain water bowls you can try.

We know that finding a solution that will ensure your cat drinks enough is stressful, but if you persevere we know you'll find it! Unfortunately, your cat's lack of water consumption could be related to health issues. Hopefully, it's just a water bowl preference, but if your cat is showing signs of dehydration, seek professional help for your fur baby.

If your cat is picky about their water, be on the lookout for dehydration symptoms such as sunken eyes, dry mouth, and an elevated heart rate. It's one thing for your cat to be picky about dry food versus wet food, but water preference can be a tricky problem to solve.


The Best Water Bowls and Dispensers for Cats

1. Pet Water Dispenser

The pet water dispenser holds up to a gallon of fresh drinking water. It uses gravity to keep a consistent supply of water. I would give this plastic bowl a try if your cat is being picky about their water bowl.

2. Cat Water Fountain

Spoiled rotten! I kid. Your cat's health is important, so if they need a water fountain, get it! This filtered drinking fountain is also perfect for small dogs. Since the water is filtered, it removes bad tastes and odors.

3. Shallow & Wide Water Bowl

In the shallow, shallow. (Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper voice.) Look! It's shallow and wide. And guess what!? BPA free. If you want to try a cheaper route first, I would go with a shallow water bowl.

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Do you have a cat that is picky with water? What was your water bowl solution? Let us know in the comments!

This post was originally published on February 23, 2018.

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