Considering they are so obsessed with cleanliness, cats have some disgusting habits. One of the most unhygienic ways of staying hydrated is the feline habit of drinking water from the toilet bowl.
You can train your cat out of drinking from the toilet. Drinking dirty water, or water that is laden with potent chemicals, should be avoided. The water may be theoretically fresh, but using a toilet as a water fountain is potentially hazardous to the health of your cat.
- 1 Why Do Cats Drink from the Toilet?
- 2 What are the Dangers of Toilet Water for Cats?
- 3 How Do I Stop My Cat Drinking from the Toilet?
Why Do Cats Drink from the Toilet?
There are many reasons why cats drink from the toilet. The behavior seems bizarre and unhygienic to us, but it makes perfect sense to a feline. Some of the explanations include:
- Your cat’s water bowl is empty. You haven’t refilled it, so they’ll find another source.
- The water in the toilet tastes fresh. You have flushed recently, whereas the water in their bowl has sat there for hours.
- The water in the toilet bowl is nice and cool. The water in their bowl has now reached a tepid room temperature.
- The water in the toilet bowl moves around, especially when you flush. That’s fun to watch, and may even to taste.
- The water in their bowl smells intriguing. They’re not sure what you’ve put down there, but it’s enough to pique your pet’s interest.
- The bathroom is a quiet place to have a drink in peace. Your cat’s water bowl is in a busy and noisy room.
- Your cat is feeling lazy. Their water is on a different floor of the house, but the toilet is right there.
So, your cat has reasons to believe that drinking from the toilet is natural. Is it? Are we just overreacting, and applying human standards to cats that have no relevance to felines?
What are the Dangers of Toilet Water for Cats?
As the ASPCA explains, three primary dangers surround a cat drinking from the toilet. These are:
- The ingestion of chemicals, such as cleaning products
- The potential for infection
- Falling into the toilet
Let’s take a look at each of these risks in a little more detail.
Toilets Contain Toxic Chemicals
It’s safe to say that you clean your toilet regularly – possibly as often as once per day. This will involve the use of strong, potent chemicals such as bleach. These can be toxic to cats if consumed.
Just because cat-specific cleaning products contain bleach, it doesn’t make it safe. The bleach found in a spray used for cleaning litter trays, for example, is heavily diluted.
There is little point in watering down the bleach that you’re using in a toilet. That won’t manage the cleaning it’s intended for.
Signs that your cat has consumed bleach include:
- Excessive drooling
- Heavy panting
- Blistering burns around the mouth and nose, which may lead to pawing
If your cat starts throwing up blood, it’s particularly concerning. This suggests that the bleach is corrosive, and damaging their internal organs.
Germs and the Risk of Infection
No matter how much you clean your toilet, there will always be traces of bacteria within. Just remember what you use it for, after all. This means that whenever your cat investigates the toilet, they risk exposure to germs.
E.coli is the biggest risk to your cat, but all manner of bacterial infections are possible. This is not passing judgment on your hygiene – it’s just a fact of life. Any human illness can impact upon urine and feces, leaving traces of toxins in a toilet.
Parasites are also a risk when cats drink from toilet water. Intestinal parasites can be stubborn. No matter how many times we flush, they’ll potentially linger in search of a new host. If your cat starts lapping water from the bowl, they gladly latch on.
Your Cat Could Fall into the Toilet
Just one slipped paw landing in the toilet could do your pet serious damage.
Let’s imagine that your cat does dip a single paw into the toilet. This may not even be a slip; splashing the water within is fun to some cats. Your cat’s paw is host to germs or chemicals.
Now, stop and think about one of your cat’s favorite activities – grooming. Your pet is going to lick that paw constantly. When they do so, they’re potentially ingesting who knows what.
In addition, many cats use their paws to groom touch-to-reach spots. This means that your pet is potentially spreading germs all over themselves.
Of course, what’s even more concerning is the idea of your cat falling into the toilet. Leaving aside the concerns previously discussed, ask yourself one critical question – can they get out? If not, and you’re not around to rescue them, your pet could be in danger.
You may think that your cat is unlikely to drown, but you may be surprised. PetMD discussed the risks of ‘near drowning,’ which could occur if your pet cannot escape their porcelain prison.
In addition, remember how much most felines loathe being wet. Prolonged exposure to toilet water will be distressing for your cat and potentially dangerous. Not only will chemicals surround them, but your cat’s body temperature will also drop significantly.
If your cat is in the toilet, fish them out. Check that your pet is still breathing, and if so, give them a rinse with warm water. This will at least remove the worst of any chemical exposure.
You should then work on getting your pet’s temperature up. Cats need a body temperature of at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap them in blankets, and use a hot water bottle if necessary.
How Do I Stop My Cat Drinking from the Toilet?
So, we have established that your cat really shouldn’t be drinking from the toilet bowl. How can we stop them from doing so, though? Felines are strong-minded and independent.
Training a cat out of drinking from a toilet is a process of elimination. You’ll need to remove all their reasons for doing so. Ask yourself several important questions:
- Does your cat have access to enough water elsewhere in the house?
- Does your cat tend not to drink their water from a bowl?
- Does your cat have a disproportionate fascination with the bathroom?
- Does your cat seem to be looking for your attention?
Which technique you decide to focus most upon depends on how you answer those questions.
Ensure Your Cat Has Fresh Water Available
It’s vital that your cat has suitable water supplies in multiple locations. If you’re to encourage your cat to drink water, you’ll need to put in some work.
Consider adding a water supply to every room that your cat frequents. Don’t assume that it has to be next to their water bowl. Cats prefer to keep their food and water supplies separate. Many felines feel that the smell of their food contaminates water.
You’ll also have to be consistent with these supplies. That means refilling them regularly, at the same time each day. You’ll also need to make sure they are always filled to the same level.
This may sound fussy, but it’s essential to cats. If the volume of water in a bowl fluctuates constantly, they grow distrustful of it.
Distrust of still water is a common trait in cats. In the wild, a feline would only drink from a running source. This why domesticated housecats find toilet water so fascinating – with every flush, it becomes a whirlpool.
You may want to consider investing in a water fountain. This will provide a constant source of running water, every bit fresh as that in the toilet. That may sound like a backhanded compliment, but it’s a huge selling point for cats.
Remember that felines are much guided by their noses. The smell of tap water will rarely tempt a cat. They’ll pick up traces of chlorine in the water, the chemical scent of which deters them.
Sure, that evaporates. But, by then, the water is warm. Consider using bottled water or filtered water to remove any potential for your cat to be fussy.
Provide Mental Stimulation for Your Cat
Of course, you should also question whether your cat needs more entertainment. Toilets should never be a cat’s primary source of amusement.
A cat with plenty to do throughout the house is unlikely to gravitate to the bathroom. After all, what’s in there for them? Ensure that every location in the home has a scratching post and toys. You could also invest in puzzle feeders, which will keep food-focused pets occupied for hours.
Naturally, all of this pales in comparison to one-on-one playtime though. If you can spend 20 minutes per day playing with your cat, they’ll be delighted. Perhaps more importantly, they’ll be too exhausted to even think about the toilet.
Additionally, never forget that cats want your attention and to spend time with you. They will feel neglected if they’re not receiving enough attention, and will find ways to gain it. This could include drinking from the toilet, if this has earned a reaction in the past.
Restrict Your Cat’s Access the Bathroom
Of course, you could always take a more straightforward approach. If your cat can’t access the toilet, they can’t drink from the toilet. Close the bathroom door when not in use, and always leave the toilet seat down.
This could be problematic if your cat has a litter tray in the bathroom. However, it’s inadvisable to keep trays in such a location. The damp can play havoc with litter, and cause infection in cats.
If you need to leave the bathroom door open, consider using cat-averse scents around the toilet. Citrus is always a winner. A lemon or lime-scented room freshener will deter your cat from exploring any further.
If your cat drinks from the toilet, the appropriate reaction is one of absolute calm. Don’t freak out – it may look odd to us, but it’s perfectly reasonable to a cat.
Certainly don’t scold your cat, as that will leave them afraid of drinking any water. You’ll have to take action, though. You don’t want this to become a habit.
Follow our advice, and encourage your cat to quench their thirst in more appropriate locations. Before long, your pet will forget about their lavatory fascination. They’ll be healthier as a result.