Do Cats Like Warm Or Cold Water To Drink?

Cats and Water Temperature: A Hot Topic for Pet Owners

For many cat owners, providing fresh water for their feline companions is a top priority. However, an ongoing debate exists around one aspect of that water – its temperature. Some cats seem to prefer their water nice and chilly, seeking out ice cubes or turning up their noses at warm water. Other cats are attracted to a bowl of room temperature or even slightly warm water. So which do cats truly prefer: warm water or cold?

In this article, we’ll examine the evidence behind cats’ water temperature inclinations. We’ll look at their evolutionary history as desert-dwellers, their unique physiology, health impacts, and behavioral signs to watch for. Read on to get the scoop on whether it’s warm or cold water that cats really go crazy for.

Cats’ Wild Origins

Cats descended from desert-dwelling wild cats like the Near Eastern wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). These cats did not have access to cool water sources like rivers or streams. Instead, they got most of their water from the animals they hunted in the hot, arid desert environment. Their wild origins meant cats were adapted to drinking warmer water temperatures.

As discussed in the Quora article “Do cats have a preference of temperature for fresh drinking water”, cats generally prefer fresh, cool water because their desert-dwelling ancestors had limited access to fresh water sources and thus evolved a preference for cooler, cleaner water when available [1].

Temperature Preferences

Cats typically prefer to drink water that is close to their normal body temperature, which is around 100-102°F for most cats (Modern Vet). Water that is too cold can deter some cats from drinking enough, as they strongly dislike very cold temperatures.

In the wild, cats consumed fresh running water at ambient temperatures. Since this water was not refrigerated, it was likely warmer and closer to their body temperature. This preference for warmer water has remained innate for domestic cats as well (Hepper).

While cats can adapt to drinking cooler water if needed, they naturally prefer to drink water that is room temperature or slightly warmed. Very cold water can seem unappealing and may result in some cats not drinking enough to stay properly hydrated.

Factors Impacting Preferences

There are several factors that can impact a cat’s temperature preferences for drinking water, including age, breed, and climate:

Age plays a role in temperature tolerance. Kittens have a lower temperature tolerance and may prefer slightly warmer water than adult cats. As cats mature, they are better able to tolerate colder temperatures.

Breed differences, specifically coat length, also impact preferences. Long-haired breeds like Persians have an insulation layer and can tolerate cooler water temperatures than shorthaired breeds.

Climate is another consideration. Cats living in hotter regions acclimate to warmer temperatures and may tolerate warmer water compared to cats in temperate climates.

Providing Warm Water

Cats who prefer warm water will appreciate some extra steps by owners to heat their water bowl. There are several methods for warming up your cat’s water:

Using a microwave is an easy option. Place about 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe container and heat for 20-30 seconds. Carefully pour the water into your cat’s bowl, checking the temperature to make sure it’s not too hot. Repeat as needed to keep the water warm.

Alternatively, you can fill your cat’s bowl with hot water from your tap. Allow it to cool down to a cat-safe temperature before placing it for your cat to drink. Replenish with new hot water as needed.

Electric or self-warming water bowls are another solution for keeping water warm longer. These bowls plug in or self-regulate temperature to maintain a consistent warmness. They’re convenient for cat owners who want an always warm water station.

Lastly, consider placing your cat’s water bowl on a heating pad set to low. This will warm the bowl from below. Just monitor to ensure the plastic doesn’t get too hot against the heating pad surface.

With a little preparation and the right tools, it’s easy to satisfy a cat’s preference for warm drinking water. Try out different options to see which your feline friend likes best!

Transitioning to Cooler Temps

Most cats will readily drink cooler water if introduced to it gradually. The key is to transition your cat slowly to avoid shocking their system. Start by mixing a small amount of cool filtered water into their regular warm water supply. Over the course of a few weeks, increase the ratio of cool to warm water incrementally. Eventually, your cat will get accustomed to the cooler temperature.

To aid the transition, make sure water bowls are placed in a separate area from the food bowls. Cats have an instinct to avoid water sources located near their food, as in nature stagnant water next to a kill can harbor bacteria. Having the water bowl in a different room or area from their feeding station will encourage drinking the cooler water.

According to cat behaviorists, mixing cool water works better than trying to force a sudden switch. Take the transition slowly and your cat will likely adapt. Monitor their water intake along the way to ensure they are staying properly hydrated.

Health Benefits of Cool Water

Drinking cool water provides several health benefits for cats. Colder water is more appealing to cats, which promotes better hydration. Proper hydration supports kidney function and helps flush toxins from the body. According to Modern Veterinary Clinic, “cats that consume more water are less likely to develop various health issues like urinary tract infections or kidney disease.” Staying hydrated with cool, fresh water may also help with constipation, urinary crystals, and reduce the risk of bladder stones in cats. Cooler water temperatures are closer to what cats would find naturally while drinking from streams, etc. So providing chilled water aligns with their natural preferences and supports their health.

Risks of Warm Water

While some cats may prefer warm water, there are risks associated with providing water that is too warm. Warm water can promote bacterial growth, leading to gastrointestinal issues if ingested (Pet Community Center). The optimal temperature for a cat’s drinking water is around room temperature or slightly cooler. Water that feels warm to the touch could potentially harbor more bacteria.

To avoid issues, always provide fresh, clean water daily. Scrub water bowls thoroughly to prevent biofilm buildup. Use filtered water if possible. If you want to provide slightly warm water, make sure it is not hot to the touch. Only heat small amounts at a time to limit bacterial growth. Never use a microwave to heat cat water, as this can create hot spots that scald. Monitor your cat’s health and behavior to watch for signs of stomach upset. Discontinue warm water if any adverse effects occur.

Owner Experiences

Cat owners report varying preferences when it comes to the temperature of water their cats drink. Some note their cats prefer room temperature or slightly cool water:

“My cat refuses to drink anything colder than room temperature water. If I give her chilled water she’ll just sit there and meow at me until I give her some room temperature water” (Source)

Others find their cats enjoy both cold and warm water:

“My cat drinks from her water bowl no matter if it’s cold from the tap or warm from sitting out all day. She doesn’t seem to have a strong preference either way” (Source)

Some cats may show more interest in one temperature over the other depending on environmental factors like season:

“My cat typically prefers cold water, except for on really hot summer days when she’ll drink more if I give her warm water” (Source)

While general trends may emerge, individual preferences still vary. Monitoring your own cat’s drinking habits can help determine what temperature they prefer.


To re-state the initial question, do cats prefer warm or cold water to drink? Based on a cat’s ancestry as a desert-dwelling animal, their temperature preferences, and their propensity for developing health issues from warm water, the evidence indicates that most cats prefer cold water. Cool water is closer to the temperature of wild water sources, allows cats to maintain a safe body temperature, and reduces bacteria growth that can cause illness. However, factors like a cat’s age, environment, habits, and taste may impact preferences.

The main recommendations for cat owners are to transition cats slowly to cooler water temperatures and monitor their drinking habits. Especially during hot summer months, providing cold water encourages drinking and promotes hydration and urinary tract health. Owners should check water frequently to ensure it stays fresh. While most cats will adapt to colder water, owners can monitor preferences and watch for signs of avoidance or discomfort. With some adjustments to encourage drinking, cool, fresh water is ideal for cat health and hydration.

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