If your cat has been drinking dirty water, this post will show you likely reasons why and what you can do about them.

So, why does my cat drink dirty water? Likely reasons why your cat drinks dirty water are that your cat does not consider it dirty, your cat does not have access to water elsewhere, your cat does not like the water in its bowl or that your cat is very thirsty.

There are actually a number of possible causes and it might be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things you can consider to help figure out the main reason and there are some things you can do about it.

Why does my cat drink dirty water?

Below are likely causes and what would make each of them more likely.

Thirst

The cause could be that your cat is very thirsty. This would be more likely if your cat tends to do it more when they do not have access to clean water elsewhere.

Nature

The bottom line when it comes to cats drinking dirty water outside, as though you’ve never given them a drink a day in their life, is that cats are scavengers.

You have genetics to thank for this behavior, as the domestic cat is instinctually inclined to look for food and water even though we take care of those needs for them. When your cat happens upon a puddle, pond, lake, or toilet, they may attempt to take in as much water as possible to stay hydrated. The instinct is to take in food and water when to opportunity arises. 

Your cat does not have access to water elsewhere

Another possible cause is that your cat does not have access to water elsewhere. This would be more likely if your cat tends to do it more when they do not have access to a water bowl.

Your cat does not consider the water to be dirty

It could also be the case that your cat does not consider the water as being dirty. This would be more likely if your cat drinks from a puddle shortly after it has been raining and not from puddles that look dirty.

There is a problem with your cat’s water bowl

It might also be the case that your cat thinks there is a problem with the water in their water bowl. It could be the case that your cat does not like the bowl, your cat thinks the water is stale or that there are other pets preventing your cat from getting to it.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main reason.

If your cat has always drunk dirty water

If your cat did not always drink dirty water, it would help to consider what else happened when your cat first started doing it. If your cat started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as something causing your cat not to want to drink from their bowl or something causing your cat to be a lot thirstier than usual.

If there is a certain time your cat drinks dirty water

It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that your cat seems to drink dirty water since the timing might have something to do with it. For example, if your cat tends to do it more when there are other pets near your cat’s water bowl, your cat might be trying to avoid them.

How to stop my cat from drinking dirty water?

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Clean your cat’s bowl

If you have not cleaned your cat’s bowl recently, it might be the case that your cat thinks that it is dirty. In this case, it could help to try cleaning the bowl or replacing the bowl.

Put your cat’s bowl elsewhere

It might also help to try placing your cat’s bowl in a different location. This would be especially worth trying if you also have a dog since your cat might be trying to avoid it.

Limit your cat’s access to dirty water

It would also help to limit your cat’s access to the dirty water such as by shutting the door to the bathroom more often or letting your cat out less.

Get help

If your cat has been drinking dirty water excessively, it might be the case that it is due to a medical cause. In this case, it would help to take your cat to a vet for a checkup. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular cat.

Can cats get sick from drinking dirty water?

Yes, cats can get sick from drinking dirty water. It would help to do what you can to prevent your cat from drinking from things such as puddles or streams.

Why does my cat not drink clean water?

Likely reasons why your cat does not drink clean water are that your cat does not like the water bowl, your cat does not like the placement of the bowl, your cat actually thinks the water is not clean, the bowl is dirty or your cat is just not very thirsty.

Can cats drink dirty water outside?

Cats will often drink dirty water outside. However, it would help to limit how often your cat does this because they risk getting sick each time they do it.

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.