If you have a dog, chances are you are continuously catching them in the act of drinking from the toilet. That’s a common scene. I’m constantly telling my children to put the lid down so the dog stays out of the toilet bowl.
But, what about cats? Cats also enjoy drinking from the toilet, and you may catch them in the act, too.
For those of you who don't have pets, it might sound strange—and maybe even gross.
But if you think about it, there are some pretty good reasons why your cat might be interested in what's in your toilet bowl, and some are fairly similar to why your dog
But, like our dogs, cats are at risk for E. coli and other bacterial contaminants found in that bowl.
Before we dive into the bacterial concerns, let’s talk about why your cat is suddenly drinking from the toilet so much.
A Fresh, Cold Water Source
If you've ever grabbed an ice cold drink on a hot day, you know the feeling: the taste of water is much more refreshing than it would have been if it had been at room temperature. Cats feel this same way when they're drinking from your toilet bowl.
The cold temperature of the water is refreshing. In fact, if you put ice cubes in your cat's water bowl, your cat is more likely to drink from their own designated bowl.
Toilets are also being flushed constantly throughout the day. Would you choose a glass of water that’s been sitting out for days, or would you opt for the water that was just poured?
Of course, you’d want the fresh water; the same is true for our cats. They opt for the water that’s just been refreshed. Change your cat’s water at least a couple of times each day to help deter them from toilet drinking.
Cats are naturally curious, so the fact that the water in the toilet is always moving may make them more likely to drink from it.
If your cat likes to drink from the toilet bowl more than anything else, this could be why! Cats are not as attracted to still water and prefer running water for a reason.
The reason may be related to what is known as the "Frenzel effect," which states that cats prefer moving things over stationary objects; it could also be something about how their whiskers help them detect movement in liquid better than they can detect static objects like glass or plastic.
Either way, cats seem specifically drawn toward flowing liquids when they're looking for something cool and refreshing.
This is where cat water fountains come in. If you visit any pet store, there are usually several options for cat fountains. A fountain can keep your cat entertained and make him more interested in drinking from that water source than from the toilet.
Can My Cat Get Sick From Drinking Toilet Water?
E. coli is everywhere in our world. It's in our water and food, and it can be found in many public places as well. But what about your own home? Is your bathroom actually a breeding ground for E. coli?
According to a recent study done by researchers at San Diego State University, the answer is yes.
They found that the bacteria were present on six out of seven toilets tested, with one sample having more than 1 million CFUs (colony-forming units) per square inch. Even worse: Some of those samples were more than 100 times higher than the EPA's recommended limit for public restrooms.
If you think about it, it makes sense. Our bathrooms at home usually have a sink and bathtub or shower (or both), and they’re usually fairly warm. The warmth combined with the humidity from us showering makes the toilet an ideal place for bacteria and other pathogens to grow.
Cats and E.Coli
If you're like most cat owners, the mere thought of E. coli in cats makes you cringe. It's no surprise that this bacteria is so dangerous for humans—it's actually one of the most common causes of food poisoning in people.
But can E. coli make cats sick? Short answer: yes.
E. coli affects cats in much the same way it affects humans: by causing gastrointestinal illness, which can lead to bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and weight loss if left untreated.
When your cat gets sick from E. coli, she'll probably vomit, have bloody diarrhea, and defecate more often than normal. She may also have a fever, become weak, and/or lose her appetite completely.
The good news is that these symptoms usually only last about 24 hours before they go away on their own—but if your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms after a bout with E. coli, you should definitely contact your vet immediately. Your cat can become dehydrated fairly quickly, which can lead to more severe problems than what you’re already experiencing.
Detoxing Daily with Feline Probiotics
Probiotics, like Daily Cat, are a great way to help your cat's body get rid of toxins. Probiotics are yeast and bacteria that help keep the digestive system functioning properly, so they can help your cat's body eliminate waste and stay healthy.
The yeast strain in Daily Cat, Saccharomyces boulardii, helps to reduce the amount of bad bacteria in your cat's body and helps reduce the risk of them getting sick.
It’s important to choose a strain that’s resistant to antibiotics, like S. boulardii, so if your cat does come into contact with bad bacteria and needs an antibiotic, the probiotics will still be able to do their job. Daily Cat not only contains S. boulardii but also prebiotics, amino acids, and digestive enzymes to help maintain proper digestive health.
How to Stop Your Cat From Drinking Toilet Water
What it ultimately boils down to, aside from cats enjoying watching water move, is their desire for fresh water. Make sure your cat always has a bowl of fresh, relatively cold water available.
That doesn’t mean as soon as it reaches room temperature you have to change it, but if you notice your cat isn’t drinking from the water bowl often, adding some ice cubes occasionally or purchasing a water fountain can help tremendously.
Investing in your cat’s gut health is also beneficial and will help them eliminate the toxins they encounter more effectively. Feeding a healthy diet, ensuring they have plenty of exercise to promote digestion, and offering probiotics can keep things flowing in the digestive tract.