Wild Cats Eat and Drink in Separate Places

Wild Cats Eat and Drink in Separate Places

by Everycat
(Somerset UK)

Cheetah drinking from a pond -- Photo by Willem Degen

Cheetah drinking from a pond -- Photo by Willem Degen

That was a very interesting article about cats drinking water. I've known many cats who would refuse to drink water when it was anywhere near a food bowl with food in it.

I asked an ethologist friend about this and she told me that in the wild, wild cats will never devour a carcass near or actually in natural water sources.

It's been suggested that somehow they have made the connection between a carcass being near or in fresh water contaminating it and rendering it useless/dangerous. This knowledge is passed on to the young as their mother teaches them life skills.

Sounds about right to me. What do you think?


Hi Jane.... I knew I could trust one of the regulars to come up with the answer! Yes, it sounds absolutely right to me too.

I think that this is almost certainly the reason why cats might like their water away from their food. It is a faint vestige of their wild ancestor's habits that haunts them.

And when you think about it, it is actually very sensible in a domestic environment. Domestic cats can be messy eaters and chuck food into the water if it is close by.

In warm weather that is not good.

Thanks for the insight, Jane, it is very welcome. The reason, by the way, that I couldn't leave comments at the bottom of the page on cats drinking water was because the text was too long. The software only allows 10,000 characters in one of those submission forms...MichaelWild Cats Eat and Drink in Separate Places to Best Cat Food

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Wild Cats Eat and Drink in Separate Places

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Jan 01, 2010 water bowls
by: Kay & Coco

We live on a small farm where there are many water sources. Everything from troughs to bowls set out around the house Coco has her favorite place and that is the small year round stream out side or the large slf filling bowl right by our back door where our dogs and her have 24 hour access to the house and the out side via a dog door. She almost never drinks from the bowl by the kitchen feeding area as it is filled only once a day and she does not seem to want to share water with Misty our chi/dachshund x. Now I realize why she is this way, Thanks for your info. Kay & Coco

Jan 01, 2010 Extra Info!
by: Everycat

Hi Finn, it's amazing how a surprise bowl of water can really inspire a cat to drink. I have several large bowls (metal, glass, ceramic) around the house so there's always some water to hand. This really helps my cats drink more. I use very large dog bowls, this gives a larger surface area for the chlorine to evaporate and a larger body of water seems to stay fresher for longer.

Ruth! Oh I HATE those pathetic duo-bowls too, you are right, it's all about convenience, never the needs of the animal. I've even seen them used at the vets, where poor cats, distressed by confinement always end up tipping the bowls over, dropping food or even tipping litter into them - ghastly, crappy plastic leeches into the water too!

I remembered something else my ethologist friend told me about wild cats and eating near water and thought I'd add it here:-

In the wild environment, a watering place attracts a great number of both prey and predator animals, so a watering place is also a dangerous place for all animals. A place where the essential guard must be relaxed for thirst to be quenched.

A wild cat devouring a kill near such a place would risk attracting other, bigger predators (who may also be hanging out near the water hoping to kill other prey animals) and also carrion animals such as Hyenas and vultures. So all in all, the risks of eating by water have been learned by wild cats and they choose to eat where there is a lower risk of losing their hard fought for meal or being eaten themselves!


Dec 31, 2009 Results of animal testing
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Jane. Our two old cats are used to having the water next to their food, but today I placed a small glass bowl with water next to Snow White's bed. The princess immediately got up and started drinking and drinking and drinking... Actually to the point where my wife got worried she had to much! Then I moved it to Milly's blanket and she too woke up and had her fill. 😉
Like human elderlies old cats often forget to drink enough. This idea could help solve that - and your explanation as to why makes very good sense to me. Thanks.

Dec 31, 2009 Good thinking Jane
by: Ruth

You've hit the nail on the head there Jane! That's why I hate to see those double dishes sold for cats, for the water one side and the food the other. The people who designed these, obviously didn't study cats before coming up with their 'bright' idea.
It seems all for convenience for people now, animals have to adapt to what we want for them and not what they would like for themselves.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Wild Cats Eat and Drink in Separate Places — 1 Comment

  1. Hi there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new apple iphone!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the outstanding work!

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