why is my cat suddenly drinking from the toilet?
Cat Food and Hydration

Why Do Cats Drink Water Out of The Toilet Bowl?

Cats have all manner of inexplicable habits. A cat drinking from the toilet bowl is something that should always be discouraged. Aside from the obvious hygiene concerns, the cat could ingest toxic cleaning products.

Toilet water is a very appealing form of hydration for cats. Regular flushing creates oxygenation, freshening up the water supply. The porcelain that surrounds the water will also keep it cool. Cats love running and moving water. Your cat may also find drinking from the toilet more comfortable than hunching over a bowl.

Cats are curious about bathrooms as this is one of the rooms that you lock your cat out of. The room also contains toilet roll, which is a favored cat ‘toy.’ You need to control your cat’s desire to drink from the toilet.

Why Does My Cat Drink Toilet Water?

If your cat drinks from the toilet bowl, you will understandably be baffled. After all, you provide your cat with fresh water. Why would a cat drink filthy and toxic water?

While it seems disgusting to you, cats consider drinking from the toilet bowl to be natural. This does not change the fact that it’s dangerous. You should assess why your cat has developed this habit.


If your cat is in the bathroom and wants a drink, it may look to the toilet. It has easy access to a large supply of water. Cats will not move to find a water bowl unless they have to. There are many reasons why a cat may be in your bathroom. These include:

  • Looking for toilet paper to play with
  • Litter tray is located in the bathroom
  • Wants to see what you do in this room with the door closed
  • Tiled floors and porcelain baths and sinks are cooling on a hot day

If your cat discovers it can drink from the toilet, it may be reluctant to stop. This makes it advisable to prevent your cat from getting into the habit in the first place. Cats are creatures of routine. If allowed, a cat will continually ignore its bowl in favor of toilet water.


Toilet water tastes great to a cat. This is especially likely if you have recently flushed. In doing so, the water will be refreshed and oxygenated. That can be much more appealing than stagnant tap water in a bowl.

In addition, many cats are fussy about water. They can smell the chlorine found in tap water water. To human logic, this is much safer than toilet water. To a cat, it’s a strange aroma that should not be there. The cat will seek what it considers a safer, cleaner water source.

The temperature of toilet water is also a consideration. The water in a toilet bowl is kept cool by the surrounding porcelain. Time it right, and the cat will enjoy ice-cool water. This appeals to a cat’s wild instincts, mirroring cool, refreshing water from a running stream.

It’s nice to imagine that cats would smell cleaning products and steer clear of toilet water. There is no guarantee that this will be the case, though. Even worse, your cat may develop a taste for a toxic substance.

The Journal of Medical Toxicology confirms that cats present to vets after ingesting cleaning products. Household chemicals were responsible for 15.5% of 248 cases over a 3-year period.

If you catch your cat drinking from the toilet, be mindful of any signs of toxicity. These include wide, staring eyes, vomiting and diarrhea, restlessness, and trouble breathing.

can cats get sick from drinking toilet water?


Cats are smarter than many people realize. They are also born imitators. If your cat watches you flush the toilet, it may learn how to do so itself.

The cat flushes before watching the water swirl. Cats love running because it reminds them of their natural hydration sources.

Many cats will flush the toilet then drink from it while it refreshes. This appeals to multiple senses. The water is moving and is at its freshest. In theory, this is the most hygienic way for a cat to drink from the toilet.


Cats may be drawn to toilet water due to aromas in the bathroom. This room is likely where you keep your favored perfumed and colognes. While cats detect humans by skin scent, they will recognize these smells too.

It’s possible that your cat is attracted by the smell of soap or cleaning products. Many bleaches and similar products utilize citrus scents. In theory, this will keep cats away. Felines loathe the smell of lemon and lime. There are exceptions to every rule, though.

If you keep a laundry hamper in the bathroom, this will also attract cats. Felines draw comfort from clothing worn by their owners. Your cat may choose to nap on such items. If it wakes up thirsty, toilet water is readily available.

Alternatively, the absence of scent in the water may be appealing. Cats are fussy about their drinking water. If water is close enough to food or litter to share aromas, it is deemed contaminated. You will not feed your cat in the bathroom. Ergo, the water smells fresher.


It is possible that your cat finds simply drinking from the toilet comfortable. This depends on how high the water flows in your toilet. The cat may find it easier to lap from here than to crouch and drink from a bowl. This is likeliest in cats with back or neck issues.

You’ll know if this is the case based on your cat’s demeanor around food and water. No cat will willfully neglect to eat without reason. If the cat doesn’t eat or drink, something is amiss. This could be a medical ailment or a physical complaint.

Your cat may also seek comfort due to a different pain source. If the cat has dental issues, for example, it may blame its food and water bowls. This will leave the cat looking for somewhere else to nourish itself and hydrate.

It’s also possible that your cat is allergic to plastic. This will cause pain and discomfort for the cat. Again, this will leave the feline looking for somewhere more comfortable to eat and drink.

Consider the impact of whisker fatigue on a cat, too. Cat whiskers receive substantial amounts of information from air vibrations all day.

If the whiskers then rub against a water bowl, they grow sore. The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery explains how most cats prefer eating from whisker-friendly bowls.

A toilet bowl is much wider than a traditional water bowl. The cat finds that dipping itself head into this location spares the whiskers are contact. This can quickly become a habit for the cat.


It’s possible that the cat just drinks from the toilet for fun. It may have been unraveling a toilet roll then lapped at toilet water. If the cat enjoyed this experience, it will not be shy about repeating it.

As discussed, cats are also fascinated by the swirling of toilet water. If the cat watches this enough, curiosity will take over. The cat will start to wonder what would happen if it lapped at this whirlpool.

Your cat may also be drinking from the toilet because it is bored. Some cats engage in behaviors they know are inappropriate for attention. The cat is trying to force a reaction from you.

How to Stop a Cat Drinking Out of The Toilet

There is no denying that cats should not drink from a toilet bowl. Just because your cat enjoys doing so, this doesn’t make it acceptable. Cats are governed by survival instinct but still develop a range of dangerous habits.

The biggest risk of a cat drinking from the toilet bowl is cleaning chemicals. In theory, the water is fresh. In reality, you may have placed bleach or other products into the toilet. The cat may not scent these in its excitement and determination to drink.

There is also the risk of a cat falling into the toilet. The cat is unlikely to drown, but it will be soaked to the bone. This can drop a cat’s temperature sharply. If you do not discover the cat quickly, hyperthermia becomes a risk.

With this in mind, keep your cat away from the toilet as much as possible. There are a number of ways that you can achieve this.

Restrict Access

Keep the bathroom door closed and shut the toilet lid. Unless the cat’s litter tray is in the bathroom, it should not need access. Human bathrooms are filled with feline hazards. Toilets are just one.

If necessary, invest in a clip to keep the toilet shut. Cats are crafty and may learn how to lift the lid. This becomes increasingly dangerous. The cat may fall into the toilet and have the lid close over it. This will render the cat incapable of escaping.

Your cat may also need to make use of stepping stones to reach the toilet. Look around your bathroom. If you have freestanding shelves that give your cat a helping hand, move or remove them.


You can also apply deterrents to the toilet. Particular air freshener scents, for example, will keep a cat out of the bathroom. Just ensure that your cat is not allergic to them. Scented essential oils will be equally effective. Scents that most cats hate include:

  • Cedarwood
  • Eucalyptus
  • Pine
  • Citrus
  • Geranium
  • Mint
  • Cinnamon

You could also apply unwelcoming material to the toilet, or the surrounding area. Cats loathe sticky substances beneath the paws. Apply some double-sided tape to where the cat gains access to the toilet. It will lose interest.

cat drank out of toilet with chemicals

Alternative Water Sources

If your cat hates tap water, it may be driven to drink from the toilet bowl. Combat this by providing a different water source. The smell of chlorine may be too strong for your cat’s nose.

Bottled water is a simple solution. A cheaper alternative is to invest in a water purifier. This way, the water is not coming straight from the tap. This should remove unwelcome chemical scents. Be sure to change the water regularly to prevent it growing stagnant.

If your cat simply refuses to drink water, consider a water fountain. This offers all the fun of a toilet bowl and none of the risk. A water fountain will produce a constant cascade of fresh, cool water. Few felines can resist drinking from such an appliance.

Alternative Water Bowls

Check whether your cat has a problem with its water bowl. Start by moving the bowl to a different location. If the water is too close to food or litter, the cat will show no interest. It will look for other ways to hydrate.

If the cat is still disinterested, whisker fatigue is a possibility. Change the bowl to a wider alternative. Ensure that the cat can drink freely without whiskers touching the sides of the vessel. If necessary, use a deep saucer. Cats are not messy drinkers. You’ll just need to refresh regularly.

If your cat is still reluctant, look into a porcelain water bowl. This will replicate the cool water of a toilet bowl. Drop some ice cubes into the water to match the temperature, too.

Cats drinking from the toilet is often standard feline behavior. This does not make it advisable, though. If you catch your cat attempting to quench thirst this way, put a stop to it. There are considerably safer ways for your cat to stay hydrated.