Why does my cat drink my bathwater? It’s a question that many people have asked themselves, but few have actually taken the time to find out. We can’t say for sure what your cat is thinking when it dips its paw into the tub and tastes your bathwater, but there are reasons why kitties may do this. Let’s take a look at some common theories behind cats drinking from the bathtub or sink, as well as whether it’s safe to let them drink soapy water.
The reason cats drink water from the tub while you’re in it is that it’s fresh running water, you’re in it, and the water is moving. Cats are instinctively drawn to moving water because it’s a sign of freshness and safety. In the wild, running water is an indicator that the area is safe to drink from, as opposed to stagnant water which may be contaminated. So your cat is probably just trying to quench its thirst by drinking some of the freshwater you’re providing.
It’s not unusual to see your cat rushing to the bathroom whenever they hear running water from the bathtub, sink, or even the toilet flushing.
But you might be wondering is it safe for them to drink water from the bathtub, since it has soap, chlorine, and bacteria such as (blue-green algae, viruses) and other pollutants. On top of that, some people contaminate the bathing water with secretions such as urine, feces, or body lotions.
Well, let’s take a closer look at why cats do it, whether or not it’s safe, and how you can stop the behavior. But first, let’s get a better understanding of how wild cats drink water in nature for survival.
How Cats Drink Water In The Wild
Wild cats will only drink moving water because it prevents them from being sick. Their survival instinct has taught them that running water is cooler, free of harmful pollutants, and won’t make them sick.
Domesticated cats have inherited this same instinct, which is why they drink from the bathtub or sink- because it’s fresh and moving.
Why Does My Cat Drink My Bath Water?
Every cat has its own unique personality, therefore, you can’t always determine why your cat does something. However, below are some of the most common reasons cats prefer drinking bath water vs from their water bowl.
It’s up to you to determine which of the reasons your cat might be drinking your bath water and address the issue.
Cats Don’t Like ‘Old’ Water
It’s a proven fact that stagnant water harbors potentially deadly bacteria, such as blue-green algae. This is why cats, who have an innate sense of survival, won’t drink from stagnant water sources in the wild. The same theory applies to your cat’s water bowl at home – if it sits stagnant for too long, the water will start to grow bacteria and can make your kitty sick.
They Are Attracted to Running Water
All cats (even domesticated) are born with the survival instinct that gravitates towards the safety of running drinking water. Just like in the wild, running water is a sign that the area is safe to drink from. So when your cat sees or hears the bathtub or sink faucet turn on, they are instinctively drawn to it because they know freshwater awaits them.
Your Cat Likes the Taste
Maybe your cat isn’t drinking the dirty bathwater, and instead of licking the bathtub? Some pet owners have said their cat jumps in the tub after they’re done taking a bath or shower and lick the tub when it’s dry. It could be because they like the feel and taste of the smooth surface?
It could also be that they know you’re in it and drinking the water makes them feel closer to you.
If your cat dips its paw in your bathtub and licks it, they may like the way the chemicals from the soap and your body taste. I know it sounds disgusting to you and me, but cats are known to eat strange things.
They Don’t Like Their Water Bowls
Some cats are pickier than dogs and some won’t drink water from their bowl, even when you change it daily. This could be because they don’t like the bowl, find it uncomfortable to drink from, or because they don’t like the way it makes their whiskers feel when they drink from it.
They’ve Seen Your Other Cat Do It
Maybe they’ve seen your other cat or dog drink from the bathtub, and they’re mimicking the behavior. It’s normal for cats to observe and adopt the behaviors of other cats or pets in the house.
It’s how cats learn new things, and it’s no different than a toddler mimicking the behavior they see from the adults they live with.
They Prefer Drinking Hot Water
Some people say that drinking hot water helps a cat relax and maybe reminiscent of when they nursed warm milk from their mother. It’s no different than us drinking warm tea or milk to help us sleep better at night.
Is It Safe For Cats To Drink Water In A Bathtub?
The short answer is yes, but it depends on how often you bathe, what kind of soap you use, and whether or not your cat has any underlying health issues. For instance, most adult shampoos and body lotions are labeled “for external use only.” Meaning they contain ingredients that can be poisonous if swallowed.
There are several brands of shampoo and depending on the type you use, the situation will be different. Both humans and pets are susceptible to the following if consuming shampoo on a regular basis.
Drinking a small amount can cause:
- Abdominal pain and diarrhea
Consuming a large amount can cause:
- The possibility of poisoning
- Damage the internal digestive tract on (humans and pets)
- Possibility of fatality
All shampoo regardless of brand is a type of detergent that is meant to clean, not be consumed. Even though a cat’s digestive system differs from ours, it shouldn’t be to consume shampoo on a regular basis.
If your cat takes a small lick, it should be fine, as shampoo is not that toxic. Instead, I would be more worried about the stronger chemicals such as (toilet, bath, and other household cleaners) that your cat may come into contact with from drinking bathtub water.
Can Cats Get Sick From Dirty Bathwater?
Most cats will be fine if they take a drink or two from newly filled bathwater. However, recently used bathwater contains secretions of bodily fluids, dirt, grime, chlorine, rust, soap, and shampoo. Meaning it’s not safe for a cat to drink from.
That said, a cat’s survival instinct won’t let them consume too much on things that may make them sick. Most cats may take a lick or two of used bathwater, but most will be attracted to the clean water coming out of the faucet.
Tips For Getting Your Cat To Stop Drinking Bath Water
As mentioned above, most cats will not drink old bathwater, because they know it’s not safe. However, if your cat is unique and drinks recently used water, below are some tips you can use to keep them safe.
- Invest In A Fountain: Your cat is telling you they love drinking running water and don’t like the stagnant bowl. Replacing their old water bowl with a fountain may help them stop running to the bathtub whenever they hear it turn on.
- Close the Door: When it’s bathtime, close the door and don’t let your kitty inside the bathroom. They’ll likely meow and beg, especially if you’ve always let them in the bathroom. However, after a few times of doing it, they will learn they are not allowed to drink the bathwater.
- Clean their Bowl: Your cat may not be drinking their stagnant water because they don’t think it’s safe. Start by cleaning out their bowl every day (no bleach) and make sure they see you doing it.
- Place their Bowl In A Different Place: Cats can become bored if their water bowl is placed in the same spot every day. Start changing the location daily, and make sure you keep the water bowl away from their food.
If your cat is constantly drinking your bathwater, it’s likely because they are attracted to the running water. Most cats won’t consume the dirty water you’re sitting in, and if they do, they won’t consume enough to make them sick.
However, if you have a strange cat that is always drinking dirty bathwater, try using some of the tips above to stop the behavior. If the behavior persists, consult with your veterinarian because your cat may have underlying health issues that may require medical attention.