Static Electricity at Water Bowl Causes Cat to Hiss

A women says that one of her cats sometimes hisses when he is over his water bowl. He hisses and then drinks from it. He shares a large water bowl with another cat in the kitchen and a small glass of water in the bedroom. Both the cats use both sources of water. Why is her cat hissing at the water bowl?

Cat at metal water bowl

Lynx point Siamese at metal water bowl

A cat behaviour expert, Dr Fox, writing on the Washington Post suggests two possible reasons. I’d like to suggest a third.

The first possible reason is that the cat has received a static electricity shock when his whiskers touch the edge of the bowl or when in contact with the water. This is more likely to occur if the carpet is synthetic and the bowl is made of metal.

What Dr Fox is saying here is that the cat charges himself with static electricity when walking over the synthetic carpet. The charge on his body is discharged when his whiskers make contact with the water as water and metal are good conductors of electricity. The charge is discharged to earth.

An alternative is that the cat has oral health issues and it is painful to eat and drink. This should be checked out at the next veterinary visit.

The first idea is better than the second I believe although it is a completely novel one. I have not heard of it before but I am fully aware of the possibility of static electricity building up in a cat’s fur.

A third possibility not mentioned by Dr Fox is that the cat is fighting over the shared food and water bowls with the other cat of the household. This is not uncommon. When he comes to the bowl he hisses to send out a signal that this is his bowl of water. He is being defensively aggressive; protecting his water supply. A proactive form of behavior in this case. Sometimes cats growl at their bowl; different sound but same reason.

When I give my cat treats of cooked chicken, if I try and take it away from him he may hiss at me if he is particularly hungry. This is the same feline behavior. We see wild cats at carcasses fighting over it and growling.

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Static Electricity at Water Bowl Causes Cat to Hiss — 2 Comments

  1. I’m just wondering if it’s just the water bowl that the cat is hissing at or is it the water and food bowl..if it’s both bowls then i would suspect some kind of oral health issue…

    • Good point Kevin. Water would be less likely to be painful to drink if the cat had a bad mouth but if the food was there as well it could stimulate a reaction in anticipation of pain.

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