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Do Cats Really Prefer Running Water?

Updated: Oct 21, 2023

Diving into the Flowing Fascinations of Feline Hydration Habits!

A cat drinking water from a tap

Cats have a reputation for being curious and particular creatures, especially when it comes to their behaviors and preferences. One common question among cat owners is whether cats truly prefer running water over still water. The fascination with running water is not unfounded, and in this blog, we will dive into the reasons behind cats' preference for flowing hydration. We'll explore the evolutionary, sensory, and practical factors that make running water more appealing to our feline friends. Along the way, we'll discuss how cat water fountains can address this preference and contribute to your cat's well-being.

Cats' Evolutionary Background and Water

Understanding a cat's relationship with water requires delving into their evolutionary history, which has left a lasting impact on their behavior and preferences:

Wild Instincts:

Cats are descendants of wild ancestors that relied on hunting for survival. In their natural habitat, flowing water sources such as streams and rivers are often fresher and less likely to be contaminated than stagnant water, making them a safer choice for consumption. This evolutionary adaptation allowed wild cats to reduce the risk of ingesting harmful microorganisms and toxins.

Thirst for Movement:

Cats' ancestors were instinctively drawn to the sound and sight of running water, as it was associated with vitality and freshness. In the wild, these flowing water sources signified a dependable and uncontaminated supply of water. This evolutionary instinct still influences the behavior of modern domestic cats, leading them to have a preference for moving or flowing water sources.

By acknowledging the influence of their evolutionary history, we can better understand and cater to our feline companions' natural instincts and preferences, including their attraction to cat water fountains and cooler water temperatures.

Sensory Sensitivity and Running Water

Cats possess remarkable sensory sensitivity, and these acute senses play a significant role in their affinity for running water:

Acute Hearing:

Cats have exceptional hearing, allowing them to detect even the subtlest sounds. The gentle flow of running water produces a sound that can capture their attention and stimulate their curiosity. The auditory aspect of running water is intriguing and captivating for them.

Keen Vision:

Cats are skilled at tracking movement, and running water provides a visual stimulus that aligns with their natural hunting instincts. The flowing water mimics the movement of potential prey, making it an engaging sight for them. This visual stimulation can pique their interest and encourage them to approach and drink more frequently.

Texture and Purity:

Running water is often perceived as cleaner and more appealing due to its constant circulation and oxygenation. This aligns with cats' sensory preference for freshness and purity. They are naturally drawn to water sources that signify safety and cleanliness, which flowing water sources typically represent.

By recognizing the role of their acute senses, we can better understand why running water, such as that provided by cat water fountains, is so appealing to our feline friends and meets their sensory preferences.

Benefits of Running Water for Cats

Running water provides several advantages for cats, meeting their physical and mental needs while addressing their natural instincts:

Hydration Encouragement:

Cats are notorious for having a lower thirst drive, which can put them at risk of dehydration. The movement and sound of running water can attract them to drink more frequently. Running water sources like cat water fountains encourage cats to quench their thirst, ensuring they stay properly hydrated.

Urinary Health:

Adequate water intake is essential for maintaining urinary health in cats and preventing issues such as urinary crystals and blockages. Running water can help prevent these problems by encouraging cats to drink more. Increased water intake promotes the dilution of urine, reducing the risk of crystal formation and urinary tract issues.

Enrichment and Entertainment:

Running water provides mental stimulation and entertainment for cats. The interactive experience of watching and interacting with flowing water can alleviate boredom and stress. It engages their senses and natural instincts, offering both physical and mental enrichment.

By offering running water sources, such as cat water fountains, you can promote your cat's hydration, urinary health, and overall well-being while keeping them mentally engaged and entertained.

Cat Water Fountains: Catering to the Preference for Flowing Water

Cat water fountains are designed to cater to the preferences and instincts of our feline companions, offering several benefits:

Mimicking Nature:

Cat water fountains simulate the appeal of natural flowing water sources, such as streams and rivers. This design aligns with cats' instinctual attraction to movement and vitality. The gentle flow of water in fountains mirrors the appeal of these natural sources, making it more enticing for cats.

Continuous Circulation:

Water fountains maintain a constant flow, keeping the water moving and filtered. This ensures that the water remains fresh, clean, and oxygenated, similar to the streams in nature. Cats are naturally drawn to flowing water due to its association with purity and safety.

Stress Reduction:

Cats who are nervous or anxious might find comfort in the calming sound of running water produced by fountains. The soothing effect of the water's gentle flow can reduce their stress levels, promoting a more relaxed and contented state.

Observe and Adapt

Recognizing that each cat is unique, it's crucial to observe and adapt to their individual preferences when it comes to hydration:

Individual Preferences:

Cats, like people, have their unique preferences. While many cats have a strong preference for running water due to their instincts, it's essential to observe your cat's behavior and water-drinking habits. Not all cats are the same, and some might still prefer still water. By paying attention to your cat's behavior, you can better cater to their specific needs.

Hydration Strategy:

If you notice that your cat shows a strong inclination for running water, investing in a cat water fountain can be a valuable addition to your hydration strategy. Cat water fountains are designed to encourage cats to drink more frequently by simulating the appeal of flowing water. However, if your cat demonstrates a different preference, such as still water, you can adapt your strategy to provide clean, fresh, and easily accessible water in a traditional bowl.

Cats' affinity for running water is deeply rooted in their evolutionary history and sensory sensitivities. The appeal of movement, sound, and freshness drives their preference for flowing hydration. Understanding this preference and providing access to running water through cat water fountains can contribute to your cat's well-being by encouraging proper hydration and mental enrichment. By aligning with your cat's natural instincts, you can enhance their quality of life and foster a healthier, happier relationship between you and your feline friend.

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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