Why don’t cats drink water near food?

We all know that all living creatures need water because staying hydrated is important. However, more often than not, cat-pawrents complain that their babies don’t drink enough water and they are worried. One of the most common reasons is that we tend to keep water bowls too close to their food. But why don’t cats drink water near their food?


Cats are biologically wired to avoid water that is close to food sources and potty places. To explain this, cats, in the wild, often eat raw animal meat, such as rats, birds but one cat doesn’t seem to be able to finish all the food they can catch. So, the raw meat will stay for days, then, of course, will get spoiled. As a result, cats don’t drink water near their food, or places that they often eat, to avoid contamination (smart!!!).

In cities, we often find stray cats wandering around trash bins where occasionally they can find some leftovers. So, with the same logic but more obvious, water around that area isn’t safe at all. And, of course, no animals would eat and drink where they poop and pee, right?

Although it is extremely important for us to provide cats, our own or strays, with fresh, clean water (in the summer, water is even more important than food), if the location of water isn’t right, they wouldn’t drink, so it wouldn’t help. However, you might argue that your cats drink water very close to their food or you have seen cats drink dirty water from the ground (like I have). In the former case, your cats are domesticated and that is the difference between a wild cat and a house cat, I guess. In the latter case, you should immediately provide them with fresh and clean water because it is a sign of extreme thirst.

With regards to your own pets, to encourage them drinking more, this is what you can do:

  • Keep water bowls away from food and litter box.
  • Wash water bowls regularly.
  • Mix water with food.
  • Feed more wet food if possible.
  • Try different materials for water bowls, such as ceramic, glass. You might need to avoid plastic bowls because they can taint the water. Some cats like natural water so tap water might discourage them. In that case, better not give tap water but drinking water instead. Some cats like running water so a water fountain is a good choice.
  • The bowls should be designed with wide-opening to avoid whisker fatigue. Same for food bowls
  • Make sure you provide free access to water 24/7 if you have only 1 spot. If not, you can keep water in different places so if one is suddenly inaccessible, there’s always at least one more.

Last but not least, regularly check hydration level by pulling up the skin. If it comes back to normal immediate, your cats are hydrated. If it takes time, they are dehydrated. In that case, a visit to vet clinics is needed.

It might sound crazy but as cat lovers, we will do everything we can do provide them with a best life, won’t we.

And, of course, the best way to prevent sufferings is TNR, Trap-Neuter-Release/Rehome.

If you wish to adopt a cat in Doha or to learn more about cats, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Feel confused?

Don’t hesitate to contact us.

If you wish to donate toward helping the animals in need, we are happy to help you do the job. Please state your inquiry in the message section.

Thank you so much!

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