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.
This water tastes fresher than the water in your pet’s bowl. The water in your toilet is refreshed and reoxygenated every time you flush. In addition, your cat will watch the water swirling around and think it looks fun. Unfortunately, the chemicals used to clean the toilet are toxic.
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 fresh, but using a toilet as a water fountain is potentially harmful to the health of your cat due to the use of cleaning products.
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 she’ll find another source of water.
- Toilet water tastes fresh. You have flushed recently, whereas the water in her bowl has sat there for hours/days.
- Toilet water is cool. The water in her bowl has now reached a tepid room temperature.
- Water moves around. It moves for a while just after you’ve flushed. That’s fun to watch.
- Scent. The water in their bowl smells intriguing. she’s not sure what you’ve put down there, but it’s enough to pique your pet’s interest.
- Peace and quiet. The bathroom is a quiet place to have a drink in peace. Your cat’s water bowl is likely to be in a busy and noisy room.
- Laziness. Her water is on a different floor of the house, but the toilet is right there.
So, your cat has reason to believe that drinking from the toilet is natural. Is it safe for your cat? Are we just 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 risks surround a cat drinking from the toilet:
- The ingestion of chemicals, such as bleach
- The risk of infection
- Falling into the toilet and drowning
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 potent chemicals, such as bleach. These cleaning products are toxic to cats if consumed.
Just because cat-specific cleaning products contain bleach, it doesn’t make them 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 the toilet. It will no longer be fit for purpose. Signs that your cat has consumed bleach include:
- Excessive drooling
- Heavy panting
- Blistering burns around the mouth and nose
If your cat starts throwing up blood, then this is particularly concerning. This suggests that the bleach is corrosive and has damaged her 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, she risks exposure to germs. E.coli is the biggest risk to your cat, but all bacterial infections are possible.
Parasites are also a risk when cats drink toilet water. Intestinal parasites can be stubborn. No matter how many times we flush, those nasty parasites will potentially linger in search of a new host. If your cat starts lapping water from the bowl, they’ll gladly latch on to her.
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 she does so, she’s potentially ingesting who knows what.
In addition, many cats use their paws to groom tough-to-reach spots. This means that your pet is potentially spreading germs all over herself.
Of course, what’s even more concerning is the idea of your cat falling into the toilet. Leaving aside the concerns, can they get out? If you’re not around to rescue her, 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 her porcelain prison.
In addition, remember how much most felines loathe being wet. Prolonged exposure to toilet water will be distressing for your cat and dangerous. Not only will chemicals surround her, but your cat’s body temperature will also drop significantly.
If your cat is in the toilet, fish her out. Check that your pet is still breathing, and if so, give her 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 her 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 her from doing so? 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 of her 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 her water from a bowl?
- Does your cat have a strange fascination with the bathroom?
- Does your cat seem to be looking for your attention?
Ensure Your Cat Has Fresh Water Available
It’s vital that your cat has suitable water supplies in various locations throughout the house. 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 her food 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 that’s 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 guided by their noses. The smell of tap water will rarely tempt a cat. She’ll pick up traces of chlorine in the water, the chemical scent which deters her.
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 extra entertainment. Toilets should never be a cat’s primary source of amusement.
A cat with plenty to do throughout the house is unlikely to head 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, she’ll be delighted. Perhaps more importantly, she’ll be too exhausted to even think about the toilet.
Additionally, never forget that your cat wants your attention and to spend time with you. She will feel neglected if she’s not receiving enough attention and will find ways to gain it. This could include drinking from the toilet, if this has got your attention in the past.
Restrict Your Cat’s Access the Bathroom
If your cat can’t access the toilet, she 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 her litter and cause infection in cats.
If you need to leave the bathroom door open, consider using cat-averse scents around the toilet. Citrus works. A lemon or lime-scented room freshener will deter your cat from exploring any further.