Tap vs. Spring. Which Water is Best for Your Cat’s Health?


When it comes to choosing between tap water or spring water for cats, there are a few key differences to consider. Tap water is the water that comes directly from the faucet in your home. It is treated by public water systems to remove contaminants and purify the water. Spring water comes from underground aquifers or springs and is bottled directly at the source. While both can provide hydration for cats, there are some notable differences in terms of water quality, taste, cost, convenience and potential health benefits that may make one better than the other for your feline companion.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the pros and cons of tap water versus spring water for cats. We will look at factors like water quality, taste preferences, costs and health considerations. With the information provided, cat owners can make an informed decision about which type of water is ideal for their pet’s needs and preferences.

Tap Water Overview

Tap water comes directly from public water systems and undergoes filtration and disinfection before reaching homes. The main pros of tap water for cats are that it’s easily accessible, inexpensive, and generally safe, as long as the local supply meets standards. According to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, tap water has been cleaned and prepared for human consumption, bathing and washing [1].

However, tap water can contain traces of chlorine, fluoride, bacteria, parasites, pesticides, heavy metals like lead, and other contaminants depending on the source and local treatment processes. Old pipes may also leach contaminants into tap water. Some veterinarians advise against untreated tap water for these reasons [2]. Overall, tap water is generally safe in moderation for cats, but filtered water may be preferable.

Spring Water Overview

Spring water comes from underground aquifers and natural springs. It is generally bottled at the source without any additional treatments (according to Why Spring Water is Good for Pets, Too). Some of the pros of using spring water for cats include:

  • Spring water contains essential minerals like calcium and magnesium that are beneficial for cats (according to Why Spring Water is Good for Pets, Too).
  • Spring water has a clean, fresh taste that cats seem to enjoy.
  • Spring water is low in contaminants compared to tap water.

Some of the cons of spring water include:

  • Spring water is more expensive than tap water.
  • You may need to purchase spring water in bottles rather than having ready access from the tap.
  • There are fewer regulations around testing and treatment for bottled spring water compared to tap water.

Water Quality

When it comes to water quality, both tap water and spring water go through filtration processes to remove contaminants. However, tap water contains trace amounts of chlorine, fluoride, and other minerals added during the treatment process. The Environmental Working Group found over 300 contaminants in public tap water, including pesticides, industrial chemicals, and heavy metals like lead and arsenic. While these are typically at low concentrations and within legal limits, some people prefer to avoid them (source).

In contrast, spring water comes from protected underground aquifers and goes through minimal processing. It does not contain added chlorine or fluoride. However, spring water naturally contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. High mineral content provides a distinct taste and some potential health benefits. Ultimately, spring water and tap water both go through filtration so which option is better depends on your priorities for water purity or mineral content (source).


Cats have an keen sense of taste and will often show preferences for certain types of water based on taste. Tap water usually contains traces of chlorine, fluoride, and other minerals that can alter the taste. According to Betterpet, some cats dislike the taste of chlorine in tap water. Spring water on the other hand tends to have a more neutral taste since it comes directly from underground springs with limited treatment. Quora users also note that cats tend to prefer the taste of bottled spring water compared to tap.

An article from CatHealth.com states that cats usually prefer the taste of filtered or bottled spring water to regular unfiltered tap. This is because filtering helps remove tastes from chlorine and fluoride that some cats find off-putting. The taste preferences of individual cats can vary however. Some may not mind tap water taste while others only drink spring. Observing your cat’s preferences and finding a water type they seem to enjoy is recommended.


When it comes to cost, tap water is generally much cheaper than bottled spring water for cats. Tap water costs on average less than $0.005 per gallon, whereas bottled spring water costs around $1 per gallon retail. This makes tap water over 200 times less expensive than bottled water on a per gallon basis. For a cat drinking around 10 ounces of water per day, tap water would cost less than $0.001 per day, compared to $0.08 per day for bottled spring water. Annually, tap water for a cat would cost only $0.30 versus $29.20 for bottled. Some key considerations around cost include:

  • Tap water is practically free compared to bottled water which can get expensive, especially for multi-cat households.
  • While the upfront cost of a water filtration system may seem high, it pays for itself over time compared to buying bottled water regularly.
  • Even low-cost store brand bottled waters are far more expensive per gallon than tap water.
  • There are some hidden costs of bottled water like transportation and plastic waste.
  • For cat owners concerned about tap water quality, a filtration system is often a better investment than bulk bottled spring water.

In summary, tap water is clearly the much more affordable option for cat owners to provide their felines with a reliable source of drinking water.


One major factor in deciding between tap water and spring water for cats is convenience. Tap water is readily available in most homes, making it easy to provide fresh water for cats at all times. According to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, tap water can provide plenty of hydration for cats when fresh and clean (source). With tap water, owners don’t have to purchase, carry and store large bottles or jugs of water.

Spring water takes more effort, as owners must buy bottled spring water from the store and replace bottles frequently to ensure freshness. According to My Own Water, some cats prefer the taste of bottled or filtered water, but tap water is fine for most cats if kept fresh and clean (source). Overall, tap water provides greater convenience for cat owners.

Health Benefits

Tap water is generally safe for cats to drink, but there are some potential health risks. The levels of minerals and contaminants can vary depending on the water source and treatment methods. High levels of magnesium or sodium from tap water may increase the risk of urinary tract infections in cats.1 Tap water in some areas may also contain trace amounts of heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and microplastics that could negatively impact health over time.2

In contrast, spring water is naturally filtered and contains a relatively consistent mineral profile that may be healthier for cats. The levels of minerals and contaminants are generally lower compared to tap water. Many cat owners find that their cats drink more spring water, likely due to taste preferences. Increased water consumption provides health benefits such as reducing the risk of urinary tract disease.3 However, spring water is not regulated as strictly as municipal tap water in terms of testing and treatment.

Overall, spring water may offer some health advantages over tap water for cats. But tap water is generally safe as long as it meets local standards. For picky cats that don’t drink enough water, switching to spring water is worth trying.

Environmental Impact

Plastic water bottles used for bottled spring water can have a major negative environmental impact. According to a study by Earth911, the plastic from water bottles ends up in landfills, littering cities and natural environments. In the US alone, over 50 billion plastic water bottles are used per year. Even when recycled, plastic bottles have high rates of ending up in landfills. The plastic litter and waste contributes to environmental pollution. Therefore, tap water or reusable water dispensers have a much lower environmental impact compared to bottled spring water in plastic bottles.


In summary, both tap water and spring water have their benefits and drawbacks when it comes to providing water for cats.

Tap water is readily available in most homes, inexpensive, and contains fluoride and other additives that can promote dental and overall health. However, tap water quality varies by municipality and source, and may contain contaminants or heavy metals potentially harmful to cats. Tap water often has an unpleasant chlorinated taste that some cats dislike.

Spring water has a fresher, purer taste that cats tend to prefer over tap water. It also lacks the chemical additives found in tap water. However, spring water is not regulated as strictly as tap water and quality can vary by brand and source. Spring water is also far more expensive and less convenient to obtain compared to what comes out of the faucet.

There are good arguments on both sides. Pet owners should consider their cat’s preferences, their budget, and research the quality of their local tap water when deciding between the two options. With proper filtration and care, tap water can be a healthy, affordable choice for cats. But for owners willing to pay more for premium taste and purity, spring water is a viable alternative.

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