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When I adopted my first kitty, I kept observing every little thing they did. Partly because of my curiosity and mainly because I wanted them to feel comfortable and happy in their new home.
Soon I discovered that this is a great way of knowing when certain behaviors are a sign of poor health.
Like, why does my cat sit by the water bowl?
Your cat could simply like the location, or they might be always thirsty. This could be a sign of dehydration or in some extreme situations a symptom of diabetes or kidney disease, commonly observed in older cats.
If your kitty is spending a lot of time sitting or lying by the water bowl, and you want to know what is causing this unusual behavior then you’re in the right place!
Why Does My Cat Sit By The Water Bowl?
If you’ve been a cat parent long enough then you might have noticed that cats love to sit, lay and get cozy in specific areas around your house. It could be a room, the same side on your bed, or that one specific armchair they keep occupying.
Most of these areas might seem like a logical place to hang out, but sitting by their water bowl isn’t necessarily one of them, so why do it?
Reason 1: It’s The Location
Before we dive deeper into more serious reasons for your cat’s water bowl obsession, I think it’s also important to mention the fact that it could be a coincidence. I keep a couple of water bowls scattered around the house in case my cats get thirsty, so occasionally I’ll spot them laying next to one.
If you keep your cat’s water bowl on a shelf, then they might simply enjoy the cozy shelf spot. If it’s in a cool room, then they might end up hanging around their water bowl to escape the heat. Then again you might be keeping the water in the warmest of rooms, closer to a radiator, and once again your kitty sits there to get warm.
It’s easy to test that theory by simply moving the water bowl somewhere else, choosing an area that they usually avoid. If your kitty is still glued to the water bowl then the location has nothing to do with this behavior.
Cats can also be somewhat possessive when it comes to their territory that’s why unneutered and unspayed cats will use urine and scent to mark certain areas. If you have more than one cat, even if they are sterilized, they can still be competitive with one another. By sitting next to a water bowl your cat might be trying to show who’s in control of the water supply.
If that’s the case then simply make sure you have more than one water bowl spread around the house, to help reduce the competitiveness.
Reason 2: Dehydration
Dehydration happens when your kitty losses fluids like water and also essential minerals like chloride, sodium, and potassium. This can either happen if your kitty isn’t drinking an appropriate amount of water, they’re overheated or suffer from an illness.
Cats are notorious for not drinking enough water, most likely because their ancestors were desert dwellers, as Purina explains, which can obviously lead to dehydration. But there are other factors like the inability to efficiently sweat. No matter how much they’ll shed their furry coat, the hot season and the sun can prove a dangerous combination. And if your kitty is allowed to go outside, or spend most of their day lying in the sun they can experience dehydration and even overheat.
If you think your kitty has been in the sun for too long or they’ve been sitting by the water bowl most of the day you should check if they are dehydrated:
- Petmd suggests that “if you take a pinch of skin over the cat’s shoulders and pull up gently, the skin should snap back into place when released. As the cat gets more dehydrated, the skin goes back in place more and more slowly.”
- Check if their eyes are sunken and dull.
- Dry and tacky gums instead of pink and moist is usually a sign of dehydration.
It’s also possible that your cat’s dehydration is caused by some illness. That’s why you should look for additional signs like vomiting, diarrhea. If your kitty is losing fluids, then it makes sense that you’ll keep spotting them around their water bowl, so the next immediate step should be a trip to the vet.
Reason 3: Medical Condition
Noticing your kitty spending most of their time sitting by the water bowl or taking multiple trips to their bowl and drinking until it’s empty is a cause enough to get worried. High consumption of water by cats could be connected to dehydration as mentioned above, but it could also be the symptom of a medical condition.
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic Kidney disease or CKD for short is the persistent loss of kidney function over time as described by the Cornell Feline Health Center. Among the kidneys, functions filtering the blood and making urine are the most important.
It’s a common enough disease among cats its prevalence ranging from 1% to 3% up to 50%. CDK can make your kitty appear lethargic, unkempt, and lose weight. One of the easily detectable symptoms of CDK is thirst. You’ll notice your kitty drinking a lot of water and urinate greater volumes.
Apart from excessive thirst additional signs for CDK in cats can include:
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Unhealthy Coat
- Bad or metallic breath
But even if your kitty doesn’t show these signs and simply spends too much time next to water sources and has increased production of urine you should take them to a vet.
Another disease that might affect your cat’s water consumption is Diabetes Mellitus. According to Krista Williams, DVM, “The four main symptoms of diabetes mellitus are increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss, and increased appetite.” Williams also notes that cats that are fed canned or semi-moist foods make it harder for owners to notice the change in water intake.
Research especially points out that a cat with Diabetes will “will be thirstier and spend more time at the water bowl.” An increase in diabetes has also been observed in overweight and obese cats, while certain breeds like the Burmese are more genetically predisposed to it.
Finally, among cats increased thirst and urination can be an indication of hyperthyroidism. In this case, the loss of fluids can also be caused by vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity. So, if your kitty is suffering from any of the above conditions, they will most likely spend most of their time hanging around water sources like their water bowl.
Reason 4: Age
As our cats grow older their needs and behaviors begin to change, and they can even develop diabetes, CKD, and hyperthyroidism that cause extreme thirst, as mentioned above.
Cats can also suffer a decline in cognitive functioning as they age. ASPCA states that “FCD affects more than 55% of cats aged 11 to 15 years and more than 80% of cats aged 16 to 20 years.”
During this period your kitty might go through behavioral changes, like forgetting how to use the litterbox properly, inclusiveness, and loss of appetite. Your kitty might end up going over and over to the water bowl because they wander around aimlessly.
They might even end up sitting next to their water bowl and their food bowl because they are too tired to move, or they simply have no interest in going around the house exploring the house as they did when they were younger.
Should I Be Worried If My Cat Is Sitting By The Water Bowl?
I think if you keep finding your feline companion sitting next to the water bowl the important thing you need to do is to understand what they want at that moment. Your feline companion might be waiting for you to notice them so they can let you know that their water bowl is empty or that the water needs changing. Cats don’t like dirty water and simply adding more and more water to a dirty bowl won’t make it more appealing.
As I’ve discussed already location could also play some role. One of my water bowls is located in the kitchen where I spend some portion of my days cooking, and that’s where I also keep all their treats. So, I often find them sitting next to the water bowl as they expect some goodies for their impeccable behavior.
If it’s an old habit and other than that they are healthy and happy and most importantly they do drink from their water bowl, then perhaps you don’t need to worry too much. Some cats might suffer from whisker fatigue so they’ll spend more time sitting around the water bowl, as they drink slowly to avoid overstimulation of their whiskers. In that case, you could check the list for our 7 top whisker relief bowls for food and water!
Of course, while sitting or lying by their water bowl can be an innocent enough behavior you do need to keep an eye on excessive drinking or no drinking at all. If your cat looks tired and unmotivated, they don’t eat properly or they’re panting constantly then these are signs and symptoms that shouldn’t be overlooked.
What To Do If Your Cat Is Constantly Sitting By The Water Bowl?
As I’ve mentioned above if your kitty is glued to his water bowl then it’s important that you observe their behavior and monitor their drinking habit. Are they in any way lethargic and weak? Perhaps they don’t respond to you as they did, and they show no interest in playing with that toy you’re dangling before them.
If you notice any additional behavioral changes, as well as diarrhea or vomiting I’d suggest you take your cat to the vet. Even the fact that your kitty is constantly sitting by their water bowl can be a reason enough to get them looked at by a professional. This way you’ll be able to get an early diagnosis that can save their life, or rule out possible conditions and dehydration.
This sudden change can also happen during the summer, if that’s the case then perhaps your kitty is too hot so they try to stay closer to a water source. I usually put cold water in their bowls or add the occasional ice cube, and when my cats hear the sound of ice breaking they rush to drink it before it turns warm again.
Then again your kitty might be sitting around his water bowl because you’ve recently bought a cat fountain. Cats love moving water, most love to drink it and there are those who also like to play with it!
In case you don’t have one I’d highly recommend you looked into it. If your cat is healthy, with a water fountain you can actually encourage your kitty to drink more water instead of simply sitting next to it. Take a look at this cat water fountain on Amazon which will ensure that the water is fresh and your cat’s drinking time entertaining!
Lastly, as your kitty ages keeping an eye on changes in their behavior, feeding patterns and water consumption is very important. Small changes even one as innocent as hanging constantly by the water bowl can be enough to tell you that a trip to the vet is necessary.
How Much Water Should Cats Drink?
While your kitty might be spending a lot of his time by his water bowl, it’s important to also recognize when their water consumption is worrisome. A Vet center in North America states that “while most cats only require 7 to 10 ounces of water a day, some don’t drink near the amount they need, which could create a serious health condition.”
Naturally, this amount might differ from kitty to kitty. We need to take into account their:
- Weight, since a 5-pound kitty might need 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water and a 10-pound cat should drink 7 to 9 ounces daily.
- Food intake, for example, wet food is usually made of up to 80% water, so this can decrease your cat’s daily water consumption.
- The quality of the water. Your cat might not drink tap water because of the smell, and they might prefer running water.
- Their lifestyle can also dictate their water intake. Outdoor cats could be drinking water from sources outside of their home and active cats will usually drink more water.
One of my cats will usually jump on the counter and meow until I open the tap water so he can drink. So, I can usually have a better idea of how much water he consumes.
It usually goes something like this!
If your kitty is healthy but you and your vet think that they could use more water, then you could consider the occasional bone broth. Bone broth has some great health benefits for cats like improved digestion, joint, and liver health. It can also promote healthier skin and coat and most importantly keep them hydrated.
Though they might stick around the water bowl more often if water intake turns into a tasty treat!
Cats are unique and oftentimes puzzling individuals, and we don’t always have to read into their strange habits. But if you feel that something is not right and seeing them sitting by their water bowl feels like a red flag I suggest you investigate it!
Most importantly you don’t have to investigate it alone, sure I try to explore these issues and find ways we can improve as cat parents, but whenever I’m in doubt I go to my vet, the person that has all the answers to all my cat questions!
Now tell us does your cat sit by the water bowl or do they prefer to wait patiently next to their food bowl instead?