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How clean is your cat's water?

Fresh, clean water helps keep kitty healthy
Fresh, clean water helps keep kitty healthy
copyright 2010 Jackie Fuchs

Would you drink the water you give your cat? Would you drink it out of your cat's bowl?

There are many reasons to clean up the water your cat is drinking:

1. Taste

Try this experiment. Fill a glass with water from your tap and taste it. Leave the glass out for 24 hours and taste the water again. It probably doesn’t taste as good. It doesn’t taste as good to your cat, either, not to mention that after 24 hours, cats’ water bowls tend to be full of fur. Many cats prefer running water, which tastes freshest to them. Most pet fountains have spaces for charcoal filters, to keep the water in them tasting fresh. If you don’t want the expense and hassle of a water fountain for your cat, do the next best thing – change the water in your cat’s bowl at least once a day. Better yet, have several bowls out and keep them all filled with clean, fresh water.

2. Health

If you’re giving your cat tap water, or for that matter if you’re drinking it yourself, you might want to take a look at the 2002 National Resources Defense Council study of municipal water supplies. The NRDC study gave Los Angeles only a grade of "Fair," finding that Los Angeles tap water contained elevated levels of cancer-causing by-products of disinfection including total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). The study also found unacceptably high levels of arsenic, radon, nitrates and perchlorate (an unregulated contaminant from rocket fuel) in certain areas of the city.

While the city of Los Angeles has a commitment to providing its citizens with a clean water supply and has undoubtedly read the NRDC report and started to make changes, it can’t control every inch of pipe between the reservoirs and your tap. Infections from bacteria, viruses and protozoa, including coliform bacteria, giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis, and hepatitis A, can all be transmitted in drinking water in small amounts, which can multiply when water is left standing for long periods of time or in unwashed bowls.

Even the safest water can become dangerous when bacteria from a cat’s mouth, the germs present in small amounts in tap water, or fur and other air and dirt-borne particles have a chance to multiply.

The solution:

1. Filter your tap water. There are many systems available, from simple pitchers to under-the-sink cartridges and whole house filtering. No one filter gets rid of everything objectionable in water while leaving in the wholesome minerals we need, but by making an informed choice, you can improve both the taste and the quality of the water you drink, while also helping the environment by using fewer bottles.

For more info, see: Make Your Tap Water Taste Better, Consumer, Compare Water

2. Change your cat’s water every day.

3. Clean your cat’s water bowl(s) regularly with hot, soapy water, just as you would clean your drinking glasses.

By adopting the above measures, your cat's water will not only taste better, but you'll be protecting your cat's health and prolonging her life.


  • Sherri 5 years ago

    Good points. My cat gets fresh water every day, but I need to do better about keeping his water bowl clean!

  • jay 5 years ago

    Great article with some sound advice. I do all of this and my cat still prefers to drink rain water from an empty plant pot in the garden(complete with earthy bits/dead flies) and from a dip in a rusty drain cover. Cats! Thats why we love em.

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