Water Babies

Cats' odd drinking habits may simply be a feline mystery.

By J. Veronika Kiklevich, DVM | Posted: Mon Jan 24 00:00:00 PST 2005

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Q. I need some help understanding my cats' drinking preferences, along with other behaviors that have been puzzling me for some time: 
  • Kallie has failing kidneys and prefers to drink all her water from running faucets.
  • Both of my cats like to lap water off shower and tub walls and floors.
  • Why do my cats like to paw water in a bowl before drinking?

Also, when I'm lying down doing my exercises, Kallie will lick my cowlick and she will sometimes actually grab my hair in her teeth and pull. Does this seem like more than simple grooming?

Any explanations you can offer would be most appreciated.

A. Cats' odd drinking habits, along with their love of grass despite being strict carnivores, are some of the unanswered mysteries in the universe. Everyone that I talk to seems to have a pet theory concerning the root of such behavior. Perhaps the most consistent theory that I have heard over the years (for the water oddity, not the grass intrigue) is that some of the ancestors of cats had to fish for a living, so their love of running water or placing their feet in water comes from some deep-seated instinct. Maybe licking water off of the shower is just behavior instinct gone awry? Another theory is that cats, being picky little individuals for the most part, simply want everything fresh. This may explain the running fresh water requirement, but not the play behavior in water.

On the medical side, however, it is really important for your cat with kidney problems to have plenty of fresh water available at all times. There are devices that provide constant running water for your cats at all times something you might want to check out.

As for the kitty that licks your hair and bites, she is displaying overactive play and grooming behavior. It may seem funny now, but this behavior can escalate into other unwanted and even dangerous behavior. I would discourage it now. I suggest locking her out of the room while you are exercising, since this is the only time she displays this behavior.

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Reader Comments

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

7/14/2012 10:48:56 AM

good article, thank you

Linda    Mandeville, LA

4/2/2009 4:06:37 PM

Good article.

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

2/25/2008 5:05:33 AM

i had a cat who liked to drink out of a leaking faucet.

Nicola    Santa Cruz, CA

3/29/2007 9:53:56 AM

Both of my bengal cats like to dip there feet in there water bowl, and splash it all over the floor, play in the bath tub water, the running fawcet water and any sorce of water...I've been told that its a natural instinct for the breed to play in water because in the wild they are fisherman kitty's and thats how they hunt...

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