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What's The Thing With Cats And Water?

The puzzle of cats and water hit me with a splash the instant I opened our bathroom door and flipped on the light.

With a shocking screech, Billy reacted to the light and made me jump. Jump into laughter, that is, that woke up my wife at an hour she considers ungodly and left Billy, my black cat and generator of the screech, incredulous.

The Puzzle of Cats and Water

There was Billy, sitting in the tub, irritated at having to wait so long. Where was his water?

The fountain my wife bought for him was gurgling with fresh, filtered water in the next room, and two bowls waited near the kitchen, one with tap water and one with bottled water. Nonetheless, Billy preferred to have his served in the bathtub.

Vain, as most cats are, he looked pretty cool, sitting there in a solid white bathtub. (Billy is a mirror-gazer, and I believe he knows and appreciates his own, black cat beauty.)

‘Wait a minute, Billy,’ I said, as if he understood words, and off I went to the kitchen. After a failed experiment with running a slow drip from the faucet, we discovered that Billy likes his bathtub drinking water in a proper cereal bowl.

Soon, Sam, his companion in tiger stripes, joined the fun, and my wife was induced to include a short drinking glass in the presentation.

Cats and Water: The Evidence

So, what is it about cats and water? Apart from it being another opportunity for them to be cute and funny?

(Funny? Unless you’ve enjoyed the experience already, imagine one cat energetically lapping water out of a cereal bowl in your bathtub while a second waits impatiently. Now, imagine leaving the room for a minute and returning to find that the second cat has joined the first, extending his rapid fire tongue into the same bowl.)

My wife, a cat artist, and I are fortunate to cat sit for other cat lovers in our community, and the stories of cats and water are growing.

  • Tookie requires bottled water that has been chilled in the refrigerator.
  • Mishka enjoys drinking from a glass too, but it must be positioned directly under the tap in the bathroom sink.
  • Many cats fervently pine for that vast resevoir we call a ‘toilet.’ A few of their people succumb to the pleading.
  • First Sam, then Billy, discovered the joys of drinking hot water from the bathtub while one of us happens to be enjoying a soak in what we would never drink. So, enthusiastic is Sam, he runs down the hallway as soon as he hears water running in the tub.
  • Billy refuses to drink any water in which any of Sam’s hairs are floating after an enthusiastic drinking session.

Image via Wikipedia

And it’s not just drinking with cats and water. Every cat I’ve ever been lucky enough to have in our home has gotten a thrill out of watching it run. Or drip. The wild swirl of water after a flush is treated as if it signaled the coming of the Messiah.

Rain water does not have the same fascination, except for the fun sound when the right wind blows it against our windows. Some cats don’t mind getting wet (They would, if they had a mirror.), and I know from growing up in the country that they can be excellent natural swimmers.

Follow this link for more cats and cat art.

But What’s Up With The Strange Behaviors?

Having been around only strictly indoor cats for years now, I think a couple of things drive their behavior. I’m certain no self-respecting outdoor cat would sit in a bathtub to drink tap water. It’s inconceivable. But indoor cats have very different realities to deal with.

Image via Wikipedia

First, cats are much smarter than people realize. They are aware of 1) how critical available water is to them and 2) that they can’t get it without your help.

The second factor is that they are bright, inquisitive animals who enjoy engaging with people, and water drinking is an excellent chance to interact and have exciting new experiences.

If you want to understand cats and water, imagine you have never heard of plumbing and you didn’t grow up with water at the twist of a handle. Now, what if some magician shows his or her ability to magically produce a boundless flow of this glorious liquid?

You’re a kid again, right? Do it again! Do it again! Wow! Can you do it while standing on only one foot? How about that tempting, slow drip, drip, drip that keeps going even after you went off to watch TV or type on a keyboard?

For cats, people can sometimes be Merlin and, other times, morons. In either case, they perform wondrous, inexplicable feats without understanding many things that are obviously important like providing the perfect nook behind your knees for a cat to curl up in during the night.

And why can’t people ever stay still?

More on these intriguing questions later, but that concludes my stories about cats and water. Do you have some you can add? Please increase our knowledge with your comments.


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