Q & A: Drinking from a tap

Q: Why do cats prefer drinking from the bathroom tap?

A: Many cats seem to prefer drinking water from a running tap rather than a bowl, to the extent that some may wait next to taps in the hopes that someone will turn it on for them. There’s a simple reason for this: cats prefer running water to still water. Think of it from a survival perspective. Running water is less likely to be contaminated than still water, making it safer to drink. Running water may also be cooler and more oxygenated, making it tastier. Being naturally wary animals, cats may also prefer the safety element of drinking from a tap – drinking from a bowl lowers the body posture, may force a cat to put her back to possible threats, and she can’t survey her environment as easily. Dripping water is also easier to hear and see for a cat when compared to standing water, so they may simply be more attracted to what appears to be a more available resource.

Fortunately, you don’t need to hire a tap attendant for your cat. There are many different water fountains available on the market these days to entertain your cat’s desire for running water. And if she prefers it, there’s nothing wrong with indulging it!

Katherine Brown, behaviourist

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