My Cat Only Drinks Water From the Faucet
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Water is essential to all living beings and cats are no exception. Despite this, for something so vital to their well-being, we often overlook its importance. We replenish water once a day or even leave water from the day before. Fortunately, a cat's attitude to water says a lot about their well-being and drinking from the faucet can be particularly revealing. It can also help us improve the level of care we provide them.
In this AnimalWised article on my cat only drinks water from the faucet, we look at why they carry out this behavior in the first place and whether they should stop it. We also investigate reasons why a cat may keep drinking more water than they should.
Why does my cat drink water from the faucet?
The key difference between drinking water from a dish and from a tap or faucet is motion. Water in our cat's bowl is standing water which is not flowing in any way. Faucet water is constantly moving when the tap is turned on. Why this is important is to do with the cat's wild ancestry.
In the wild, a pool of stagnant water is more likely to be polluted. There may be a dead animal carcass in there or bacteria from any number of sources. Water flowing in a stream is more likely to be fresh and have less contaminants. When a domestic cat sees water flowing, it likely triggers an instinct which makes this water seem more palatable.
We can understand better by looking at the reasons for a cat's impulse to drink water from the faucet:
- Stagnation: on many occasions, cat guardians do not replenish their cat's drinking water enough. This means the water can be stagnant. Also, our drinking water often has chemical treatment which can be off-putting to cats. We sometimes see cats drink from a puddle and think this is worse, but actually the water may seem much fresher to them if it has just rained.
- Genetics: wild cats know now to drink standing water due to information passed down through genes. These genes have relayed similar information to their descendant; the domestic cat.
- Temperature: as a general rule, water tends to come out cooler from the faucet. This is especially attractive in the hottest months of the year, when water in a cat's tap can become tepid.
- Location: where we place the cat's water can drive them to seek other water sources, including the faucet. If we set their dish beside their litter box, somewhere noisy or anywhere the cat does not want to drink, they might go to the faucet out of preference.
Cat drinking from faucet all of a sudden
Another very important reason why a cat has started drinking water from the faucet is because they are not getting enough water. A cat should drink between 5 to 10 fl oz (147 - 295 ml) of water per day. The amount differs depending on their weight and health status.
If we observe our cat drinks more or less than this it is a problem. A cat drinking too little during the day means the cat is dehydrated. Drinking too much means the cat is likely to have something called polydipsia, essentially excessive thirst. We can also see this from their litter tray as this disorder is usually associated with polyuria (excessive urination).
A cat drinking more on a very hot day is not excessive thirst, it simply signals they need to drink more to compensate for the heat. When a cat drinks more for no apparent reason, it could be due to various causes.
Cat's drinking more than usual (non-pathological)
As we have stated above, there are various reasons why a cat will drink more water form the faucet. Not all are pathological, i.e. due to a disease or medical condition. Some are due to environmental changes or necessary biological processes.
- Lactation: females during the lactation period need to drink more, as the water requirements for milk formation increase.
- High ambient temperature: in the hottest months of the year, the body's regulatory mechanisms are activated. This means cats require more water to maintain an appropriate body temperature. In other words, your cat is hot and wants to cool off.
- Very dry food: cats which only eat dry food do not intake as much water as those which eat wet food. The dry kibble itself can cause them to feel dehydrated. They may go to the faucet to drink more and compensate.
- Medications: corticosteroids, diuretics or phenobarbital can cause increased thirst and frequency of urination.
- Grooming: when a cat starts to overgroom you may see various signs, including losing patches of fur. Less noticeable may be the cat drinking more water due to a decrease in saliva. A cat may drink from the faucet to compensate.
- Increased activity: if your cat has taken to going out more, exploring, hunting or marking territory, they will become more active and will need more water than a cat that does not leave the house.
Cat's drinking more than usual (non-pathological)
Our cat drinking from the faucet may mean they feel the need to drink more than usual, sometimes due to disease. The below pathological reasons for increased water intake in cats can be very serious medical conditions:
- Chronic kidney failure: a progressive loss of kidney function means the cat does not process fluids and waste properly. This occurs more commonly in cats over 6 years of age, but causes of feline kidney failure also include poisoning, uroliths and more. There are also other symptoms of feline kidney failure we need to look out for.
- Diabetes mellitus: with this disease, polydipsia is characteristic together with polyphagia (eating more than normal) and hyperglycemia (more sugar in the blood). In most cases diabetes in cats is produced by resistance to the action of insulin, which is the hormone that is responsible for moving sugar from the blood to the tissues where it is used as energy. It is the most frequent endocrine pathology in cats older than 6 years.
- Hyperthyroidism: an increased metabolism due to excessive thyroid hormones. It is a common disease in older cats with symptoms characterized mainly by polyphagia, but also weight loss, hyperactivity, poor coat, vomiting and polyuria/polydipsia.
- Compensatory polydipsia: due to diarrhea and/or vomiting in cats, they lose more fluids. In turn, there is an increased need to drink water due to the risk of dehydration.
- Liver disease: if the liver does not work well, cortisol is not degraded. In turn, cortisol levels increase and polyuria and polydipsia appear. The other reason is that without a liver there is no adequate synthesis of urea and, therefore, the kidneys do not function properly.
- Diabetes insipidus: either central or of renal origin, due to lack of antidiuretic hormone or inability to respond to it. Diabetes insipidus leads to polyuria and polydipsia because this hormone intervenes by preventing the kidneys from retaining water in the urine, causing urinary incontinence, among other symptoms.
- Pyometra in cats: also known as uterine infection. It occurs in younger or non-neutered older female cats, especially thoes that have undergone treatments to stop their heat cycle or those on estrogen and progestin therapies.
- Pyelonephritis: or kidney infection. Its cause is usually bacterial (E.coli, Staphylococcus spp. or Proteus spp.).
- Electrolyte disturbances: if there is a lack of potassium or sodium, or if there is excess calcium, it polyuria/polydipsia can be a consequence.
There are practical and pathological reasons why a cat will drink less water. If we change their diet to wet food, for example,they will need to drink less. In the wild, the vast majority of their hydration comes from eating meat. Sickness and disease can cause them to drink less. However, this should not affect whether or not they drink from the faucet.
If you do need ways to encourage your cat to drink more water, you can check out our video below:
Should I stop my cat drinking from the faucet?
To know whether we should let a cat drink from the faucet, we first need to know why it is doing so. First we can look at the non-pathological issues. However, if none of them seem to be the cause, then we need to go to the veterinarian and determine the cause.
It is possible the cat simply has a preference for drinking from the faucet since it uses running water. In these cases, we need to think of reasons why a cat shouldn't drink from a faucet:
- Hygiene: if a cat keeps jumping up to our sink to drink from the faucet, they can make the area unhygienic. Fecal matter, bacteria or other contagious matter can be transferred to our dishes or area where we brush our teeth.
- Nuisance: cats which keep coming over to use when we use the sink to drink from it can be a nuisance. It can negatively affect our bond if it is something which annoys us.
- Water damage: this should only happen with certain types of faucets. Not all cats have the know-how to open a faucet, but some clever kittens do. Cats don't have thumbs and, therefore, can only operate certain types of faucet. However, if we have a lever type faucet (see below), it is possible the cat can turn the tap and leave it on. If the sink is blocked, it can cause flooding. At the very least, it will be a terrible waste of water.
Some guardians are happy to let their cat drink from the faucet when we turn it on for them. However, we cannot let them rely on this as their main water source since we are not always there to turn on the tap.
How to stop my cat drinking from the faucet
As explained above, letting a cat drink water from the faucet doesn't necessarily need to be discouraged. However, it is not the ideal way to let them drink water. If your cat drinking from the faucet is a problem, then you need to find ways to prevent them from doing so. Here are the best methods:
- Water fountain for cats: there are many different water fountains for cats on the market. Some are even automated to work when the cat is near. Choosing one of these products is as if you are giving the cat their own faucet. It promotes drinking and can be effective in stopping them from drinking from a tap.
- Refresh water more regularly: if a cat is drinking from the faucet too much due to poor water quality, ensure you refresh their water dish more regularly. You can even try using bottled water and see if this makes a difference (at the amount a cat drinks, this is not prohibitively expensive).
- Wet cat food: something which can be more expensive is giving the cat wet food. If you can afford it, this can be a great option as wet food provides much more moisture than dry food.
- Lock doors: if the cat keeps drinking from the faucet in the bathroom, you can keep the door closed. This perhaps not as easy in the kitchen. Be careful when closing as it is common for a cat to follow their guardian into the bathroom.
- Cat milk: milk for adult cats is a tasty treat which can give the cat more water and prevent the need to drink from the faucet. However, it can also add calories, so we need to be careful.
If you have any questions, you will need to speak to your veterinarian. They will determine the right course of action specific to your cat.
If you want to read similar articles to My Cat Only Drinks Water From the Faucet, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.
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- GEMFE, AVEPA. Chronic kidney failure in cats . iCatCare, High Street, Tisbury, Wiltshire, SP3 6LD, UK.
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