Home Too Sterile For A Cat?

This is a follow up from Elisa’s article: Is Water Making Your Cat Sick? I don’t know if someone made a comment on her post but it seems to me that even when we provide water for our cat in a nice clean bowl, if they are allowed out, they will drink from a muddy pool of water on a manhole cover, puddle, or some such place. I have seen my cat do that. Manhole covers for cables or drains have indentations where a device can be placed to lift the cover. This area fills with rain water. And, for some cats, good old messy rainwater is apparently preferable to tap water in a clean bowl. It can look odd and a bit disconcerting. Will she catch something from the water. Will it make her sick?

Cat Drinking From Muddy Pool
Cat Drinking From Muddy Pool. Collage by Michael from picture by ehud
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Does your cat drink dirty rainwater? This is where I reference Elisa’s article. Our tap water contains chlorine or fluoride or whatever and is thoroughly “processed”. The bowl we put the water in is washed in a dishwater using strong detergent. That is a lot of chemicals in a very sterile and hygienic world that may be just a bit too unnatural for a cat. And cats can pick up on these chemicals. They have great noses.

It can go further than that. Even the bowls that we use can have chemicals in them that can cause allergic reactions. Certain plastics may leech chemicals. Ceramic bowls are probably the safest. A dermatitis may develop around the chin if a cat is allergic to certain chemicals.

Does anyone give their cat bottled water? Even that might be unsatisfactory. I don’t know. Bottle water is in plastic bottles. There was a story recently (or was it some time ago, I forget) about chemicals leeching out of the plastic into the water when the bottled water was stored for a long time. These chemicals are poisonous to people and therefore to cats as well.

The point is you can’t beat good old fashioned natural rain water. Perhaps people who have their own house should keep a water butt (a barrel that collects water from the roof) and then place water from the water butt into a ceramic bowl for their cat to drink from. That would seem to be the absolute standard required for a domestic cat.

There are other areas where you could say that the home is too sterile or humanised for the cat. There has been a steady tendency to make our homes and lifestyles overly hygienic and protected. It is about making life safer and better for us. But it may not make it better for the cat. You can sense this clash of culture between cat and human.

Cats who go out bring in mud, leaves and dead animals etc. We don’t like that. The modern trend is towards creating a human world devoid of nature. Concrete everything over. The world is becoming less natural and therefore less pleasant for a cat. Actually, there is an argument that the western world is becoming too sterile for kids. Kids don’t understand risk anymore because they are protected from doing risky things. And their immune systems don’t get a chance to develop in a sterile world. Another aspect of the human desire to reject natural ways is the overuse of antibiotics. People don’t want to let their body kill a bacterial infection. They want a drug to do it. This causes drug resistant bacteria to develop with serious consequences.

For the nearly 40 million full-time indoor cats in the USA, their world is the human world. They are safer than cats let out. However, we don’t know how much this safe and unnatural world impacts on the cat. Mysterious ailments might develop such as immune system problems with unknown causes. Are some of the causes the home that is too sterile and too humanised for a cat?

I don’t know. I just sense it might be the case even for the adaptable, domesticated cat.

Note: There are quite a few articles on cat water on this site. Please use the custom search box to find them if you are interested.

2 thoughts on “Home Too Sterile For A Cat?”

  1. When plastic becomes warm it releases estrogen in large amounts, as well as other chemicals. Warmth/heat and plastic are bad news. Its for sure that bottled water, no matter how cool it might be kept now, was at some point warm enough to have already released things into it’s own contents.

    I hate seeing my cats drink from puddles. They even lap up water from really tiny patches of water. It makes me terribly nervous. Its a good question though. Not consuming anough of the bad bacteria makes us very weak against them. So a bit of dirt is good for an immune system. Maybe indoor cats become more in danger after time of the bacteria found outside. But also its true about the chemicals in the house. If you polish a wooden table and wipe it clean with a rag, and the cat licks the table, sure it gets some of your wood polish in its system. All the cleaning products we use – how well do we clean them off after use. These micro measurement sorts of questions require serious funding to be answered. Wouldn’t it be great if some scientists got to work on behalf of cats and not children – maybe just for a day or two. We all know the more you clean the more you spread bacteria around the house by virtue of the damp cloth you are using. If you wipe up everything you see with a sponge you are taxiing bacteria around the place. How do these bacterias go with cats. I’m sure cats can handle them alot more than we which is why they can drink out of those puddles (maybe we can drink from them too!) – therefore I think this question is part of the same greater question which concerns us human beings. Are our homes and our need to use soap everyday (thus making our noses oh so sensitive to even our own natural smell) too sterile? I would say so, and therefore whatever we domesticate will suffer from the same afflictions, perhaps to greater effects even. Culture and humanity has a habit of losing touch with its own nature so the paradox of our sterile lives being what enables us to be sick more easily is just another typical oxymoron of this day and age. Since cats are more in touch with themselves I guess the sterility of a home, whilst not necessarily being a physical health threat, might be a mental problem. Maybe thats why the cats start eating vegetables and licking bits of dust and dirt if they are lucky enough to find them. I can see my cats are disappointed when I vacuum. They like the dust under my bed. It moves when there is a tiny current of air and they watch it closely as it comes alive, just like grass swaying in the breeze. So a steril home is just depressing for a cat I think above all because to be steril it must be tidy and clean. I’m not saying my home is messy, but when my cats shred a piece of paper and roll around in it on the living room floor, I dont just clear it up, I leave it there for them til they get bored of it. I vacuum once a week. but I leave bottle caps on the floor for them and I even leave yesterdays clothes in a pile on the floor if one of them chooses to sleep on them. I dont tidy up immediately and clean clean clean.


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