To figure out if domestic cats prefer cold water it is probably sensible to turn the clock back and consider what the domestic cat’s wild cat ancestor did some 10,000 years ago. This cat is the North African wildcat. Their prey is warm when eaten if freshly killed or at ambient temperature. They drink water out of a variety of watercourses such as streams and rivers which is cool or cold in comparison.
The indications are that today’s domestic cats prefer cold or cool water because (1) they have inherited the traits of their wild cat ancestor and (2) we should always provide our cats with plenty of fresh water. Cat owners do this. It comes out of the fridge in which case it is cold or it comes out of the tap in which case it is cold or cool. Domestic cats are habituated to freshwater which is cold.
That said, I’m sure a domestic cat will drink water at room temperature and often does as it warms up or even warm water if she is thirsty enough. Let’s say they cats do not have quite the same reaction to drinking lukewarm water that we have.
Domestic cats allowed outside sometimes prefer to drink from muddy puddles rather than from their water bowl inside the home. The former is rainwater and the latter is usually tap water which may be lightly chlorinated and ‘processed’. Cats pick up the difference and might prefer the more natural stuff. Domestic cats also not unusually like to drink out of the faucet (the tap in the UK). This is because the water is cooler, fresher and running which simulates drinking from a stream.
What do you think? There are no studies on this subject so it is down to us to work it out for ourselves.