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Home > Cats > Why Won’t My Cat Drink Water From Their Bowl? 6 Common Reasons

Why Won’t My Cat Drink Water From Their Bowl? 6 Common Reasons

cat drinking fresh water in a bowl

Cats are finicky animals. They tend to do whatever they want, regardless of our wishes. They play when they want, sleep when they want, and eat when they want. They also drink water when they want. However, things like drinking water should not be optional activities. Water is necessary for life.

If your cat is not drinking water out of their bowl, there must be a reason for it. While cats are well known for not being big water drinkers, they would never choose to forego water completely. It’s important to figure out why your cat is not drinking water out of their bowl so you can address the issue and get them to drink water again. Here are six common reasons that your cat might not be drinking water out of their bowl.


The 6 Reasons Your Cat Won’t Drink Water From Their Bowl

1. The Water Isn’t Satisfactory

Cats tend to have a knack for knowing when their water is not clean or safe. If the pH balance is off or the water smells or tastes “weird” to your cat, chances are that they will not drink the water, no matter how thirsty they get. If this is the case for your cat, you may notice that they try to drink water out of your glass, from the sink, or even from the toilet bowl instead of their water bowl.

What You Can Do About It

Try filling your cat’s water bowl with spring, filtered, or reverse osmosis water. If the problem was the water in the first place, this action should be all that is necessary to get your cat to drink water from their bowl again. Make sure you thoroughly clean their water dish before filling it with a new kind of water, to ensure that no residuals from the old water are left behind.

2. The Bowl Isn’t in a Good Location

Just like cats are finicky about where they sleep, eat, and use the bathroom, they can be picky about where their water dish is located. Some cats prefer to drink their water in a quiet, isolated place or from a perched location. Others prefer that their water is kept away from their food so food debris doesn’t end up getting in it. If you have recently moved your cat’s water dish to a new location and they won’t drink out of it, they might just dislike where you’ve put it!

What You Can Do About It

Simply relocate the water dish to a new place in your home. If that doesn’t work, try another location. Try different environments each time you move the water dish to ensure that you’re making enough changes to satisfy your kitty.

maine coon cat pawing its water bowl
Image Credit: Pickless, Shutterstock

3. The Water Level Is a Problem

Your cat may be avoiding their water dish for no other reason than the water level. If the water level is too low, your cat may not appreciate having to put its head so far into the bowl that their whiskers brush against the sides. If the water levels are too high, they might not like the splashing of water that gets on their fur while they drink.

What You Can Do About It

Try a different water level! Fill the bowl up to the top, and see what happens. If your cat still is not interested, try filling the bowl to a lower level than what was originally in there. If your kitty still is not interested after trying different water levels, there is probably another reason that they aren’t drinking water out of their bowl.

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4. The Water Temperature Is Not Right

If the weather is hot, chances are that your cat will not want to drink the warm water that is sitting in their bowl. But cold water isn’t usually attractive to a cat when the weather is chilly. If the water temperature is not comfortable for your cat, they’ll likely try to wait for their thirst out until their source of water is more satisfactory to them.

What You Can Do About It

If it’s hot outside, try placing a couple of ice cubes in your cat’s water dish to cool the water down. If it is cold outside, fill their bowl with water that you’ve warmed on the stove. Make sure the water is only lukewarm, so your cat doesn’t burn themselves when they drink. Heated water bowls are also an option if your budget allows.

cat drinking water
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

5. The Water Is Too Still

Some cats do not like still water. In nature, a cat would look for a source of running water to ensure that it is clean and safe to drink, with streams being ideal. A bowl of still water may simply be off-putting to your cat because it isn’t moving. They might think of the bowl of water as nothing more than a dirty puddle that should be avoided.

What You Can Do About It

Consider investing in a pet-safe water fountain. This will mimic the flowing water that your cat would find in nature. Pet water fountains also recycle the water so there is no need to constantly replace it.

6. A Health Problem Has Developed

Sometimes, a cat will stop drinking water from their bowl due to a health problem that has developed. It could be anything from an infected tooth to kidney issues that keeps a sick cat from drinking water. If you cannot determine any other reason for your cat not drinking their water, there is a chance that health is the reason.

What You Can Do About It

It is important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Don’t wait to see if the issue will correct itself, even if you have reason to believe that the problem is temporary. Your cat could get dehydrated in the meantime, which could lead to health problems that they didn’t have in the first place.

grey cat drinking water from bowl
Image Credit: Prilutskiy, Shutterstock


There are several reasons that a cat will not drink water from their bowl, so a bit of detective work might be necessary to determine why your kitty is avoiding their water dish. Hopefully, this guide will help make the process easy so you can get your cat to start drinking their water again.

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Featured Image Credit: Yuliya Papkova, Shutterstock

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