Because our cats are our daily companions, it is easy to forget that they are also animals. As members of the animal kingdom, they have evolved instincts to help protect them from the dangers in a wild environment. Nowadays our cats have us to help protect them, but wild felines did not. All they had was what their instincts told them and “street smarts” they learned as they lived.
Wild animals prefer cool fresh water to standing water. They instinctively know that standing water is more likely to be contaminated and stagnant. Truly stagnant water does not look or smell enticing at all, but even the water in the water bowl is not as fresh as what is in the toilet, since it refreshes with each flush. Still water is certainly a source of disease for people and hikers/campers know that the best choices are running water (and of course, we know that even these must be treated before we can safely drink them).
Cats see and smell the cool, fresh water in the porcelain bowl and they immediately think it is preferable to any that has been standing. They do not know what we all know, that toilet water is likely contaminated with fecal bacteria.
Cats cannot read on the internet about all the awful things that can contaminate water and they certainly do not know what can grow in your toilet, so they have to rely on their instincts to guide them.
Fortunately, nature has given them great immune systems also, so you needn’t panic if your cat indulges in a little potty water, but it is preferable to keep the clean water in her bowl as fresh and cool as possible. But always see your vet if your cat is acting sick or experiencing vomiting or diarrhea. Mention to your vet that she has a potty preference as well. If you can obtain a cat water fountain, she can have fresh, clean, running water anytime and you will not have to worry about a “potty mouth”!
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