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Do Cats Like Water Next to Their Food?

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Deciphering Feline Dining Preferences for a Happy Mealtime!

A cat peaking to see food

As devoted cat owners, we're always seeking the best ways to keep our feline companions happy and healthy. One of the critical considerations is their hydration, and when it comes to placing their water source, questions arise about whether cats like water next to their food. In this informative guide, we'll unravel the mysteries behind this query, diving into feline behavior, instincts, and preferences. By understanding the dynamics between food and water for cats, you can create a comfortable environment that encourages their natural habits and optimal hydration.

The Instincts and Preferences of Cats

Understanding the instincts and preferences of cats is essential for catering to their unique needs and behaviors. Here are some insights into the natural instincts and preferences that shape their relationship with resources like water:

Wild Ancestry:

Cats' wild ancestors would instinctively seek out water sources separate from their prey. This behavior was a survival strategy to avoid contamination of their water with remnants of their kills. In the wild, they would typically locate streams, puddles, or other natural water sources away from their hunting grounds. This instinct has influenced their preference for having water separate from their food in domestic settings.

Preference for Separation:

Cats tend to exhibit a strong preference for separation when it comes to various resources, including food and water. They are naturally inclined to keep their resources apart, reflecting a territorial and resource-guarding behavior. This preference for separation is deeply ingrained in their behavior and has a practical function to avoid contamination and maintain the freshness and quality of their resources.

By recognizing these instincts and preferences, pet owners can better provide for their cats' well-being by offering separate and clean resources, such as separate food and water dishes. This understanding helps create a harmonious living environment that aligns with cats' natural inclinations.

Should You Place Water Next to Your Cat's Food

The question of whether to place water next to your cat's food has sparked a debate among pet owners and experts. There are arguments both for and against proximity, each with its own merits:

The Argument for Proximity:

Some cats might tolerate having their water bowl near their food. This is especially true for cats that have been accustomed to this arrangement from kittenhood. Cats are individuals, and their preferences can vary widely. For some, the convenience of having everything in one location may be acceptable.

The Argument for Separation:

Placing the water bowl away from the food aligns with cats' natural instincts and historical preference for cleanliness. Cats' wild ancestors would seek separate water sources to avoid contamination with prey remnants. Keeping water separate from food helps maintain the freshness and cleanliness of both resources, catering to the cat's preference for separation and cleanliness.

The choice between proximity and separation depends on your individual cat's preferences and behaviors. It's essential to observe your cat's reactions and adjust based on their comfort and well-being. Providing both options and allowing your cat to choose their preferred arrangement can be a thoughtful approach.

Factors to Consider

The decision of where to place your cat's water bowl involves several considerations to ensure they have easy access to clean, appealing water. Here are some factors to ponder:

Observing Individual Behavior:

Cats have unique personalities and preferences, so it's crucial to observe your individual cat's behavior and adapt water placement based on their response. Some cats may be more flexible and tolerant of having water near their food, while others might have a strong aversion to it.

Avoiding Aversion:

Some cats may avoid water near their food due to scent contamination. If you feed your cat strong-smelling foods, the scent might transfer to the water, making it less appealing. In such cases, separating the water from the food can help ensure your cat remains well-hydrated without being deterred by scent contamination.

Providing Options:

To cater to different preferences, you might consider providing both options—placing a water bowl near the food and another one in a separate location. This way, your cat can choose the arrangement they are most comfortable with.

Ensuring Freshness:

Regardless of placement, the primary concern is ensuring the water is fresh and clean. Cats are sensitive to the taste and cleanliness of their water, so regular cleaning and maintaining the water's quality are essential.

By taking these factors into account and being attentive to your cat's behavior, you can make an informed decision about where to place their water bowl, ultimately ensuring their hydration needs are met and their preferences are respected.

Potential Benefits of Separate Water Sources

Opting for separate water and food sources can offer various benefits for your cat's well-being and natural behaviors. Here are a couple of potential advantages:

Stress Reduction:

Separating food and water can reduce potential stress associated with resource guarding. Some cats may become territorial or anxious about guarding both their food and water, particularly in multi-pet households. By keeping these resources separate, you promote a stress-free environment where your cat can access food and water without concerns about competition or conflict.

Natural Behavior Promotion:

Placing the water bowl away from the food aligns with cats' natural behaviors and preferences. It encourages them to exhibit their instinctual behaviors, such as seeking out separate water sources, similar to their wild ancestors. This can contribute to a more content and harmonious living environment for your feline companion.

By considering the potential benefits of separating food and water sources, you can help ensure your cat's health, happiness, and natural behaviors are fostered.

Addressing Common Concerns

When deciding where to place your cat's water bowl, it's important to address common concerns and considerations that can impact their hydration habits and overall well-being:

Hydration Habits:

Cats are individuals with diverse preferences. Some may be perfectly comfortable with water placed near their food, while others may favor separation. It's essential to observe your cat's behavior and adapt the placement based on their unique response to ensure they stay properly hydrated.

Scent Contamination:

Strong food odors can deter cats from drinking water if the two resources are placed nearby. Cats have sensitive noses and may find the scent contamination unappealing. Separating the water from the food can alleviate this concern and make the water source more inviting to your cat.

By addressing these common concerns and being attuned to your cat's specific preferences, you can create an environment that promotes their hydration and overall well-being.

The choice of whether to place water next to your cat's food depends on various factors, including their individual preferences, behavior, and instinctual tendencies. While some cats might not mind having water near their food, others prefer the separation to align with their natural instincts. Whichever route you choose, the most crucial aspect is to ensure your cat has easy access to clean and fresh water. By considering your cat's well-being, habits, and comfort, you can create an environment that promotes optimal hydration, supports their natural behaviors, and contributes to their overall health and happiness.

If you are in search of a water fountain for your furry friend, you can take a look at the Pet Zephyr stainless steel water fountain, available on Here are some specifications of the fountain:

Pet Zephyr stainless steel pet water fountain
  • With an ultra-quiet pump, this dispenser operates at a mere 30dB, creating a peaceful environment, especially during nighttime.

  • Crafted from high-quality food-grade 304 stainless steel, this fountain boasts exceptional durability and corrosion resistance, ensuring a long-lasting and safe water solution for your pets.

  • A triple filtration system is designed to provide your pets with pure and clean drinking water.

  • With a generous water capacity of 68oz (2.0L), this pet water fountain has a visual water level indicator, featuring a red buoy.

A button for the Amazon link of the water fountain


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