Why Does My Cat Drink Fish Tank Water?

In the wilderness, the members of the feline species rely on their instincts to ensure their survival.

One of the ways in which cats show us this is by tending to drink fresh, running water and avoid stagnant water. This prevents possible infections, keeping the cat healthy and ready to hunt.

It doesn’t matter to cats whether this water is simply running from the sink or if, for example, they see bubbles floating to the surface of an aquarium, what matters is that their survival instincts tell them that running water is healthier than the stagnant one.

It is also one of the reasons why your cat will ignore her water bowl and drink water from a toilet. The water keeps moving, so your cat will see it as more fresh, even if the owner might be disgusted by the sight.

Meanwhile, tap water might be unappealing to your cat if it can sense high levels of chlorine in it.

Your cat wants to stay clean and healthy, but she might not always differentiate between healthy and unhealthy water sources. You can greatly help her by choosing to buy a cat water fountain such as AQUAPURR eC, that simulates fresh, running water and caters to the cat’s senses.

Why Do Cats Like Fish Tank Water

Has your cat ever tried to drink fish tank water?

This somewhat weird habit can startle a lot of pet owners when it first happens. Surprisingly, cats are known to really enjoy drinking the water from a fish tank when they’re thirsty. Much to the surprise of their owners, cats will even drink from a dirty fish tank.

The consensus is that cats either like the bubbles that are being made in the fish tank, or they like the scent of fish in combination with the water they need.

Whatever the case is, cats will almost always prefer to drink from a fish tank even if they have clean water in their pet bowl. Many cat owners worldwide have reported this problem and most of them seem to have allowed their cat to drink from a fish tank.

Health Concerns

The consensus is that there are no known diseases that can spread to felines if they drink fish tank water, although some care is advised since infections can still happen.

Whenever cats drink from a fish tank, the pet owner should be concerned for both the feline and the aquatic life due to bacterial transfers that go both ways.

In serious cases, a highly contaminated fish tank could be a health hazard to anyone, including humans. So, of course, it’s not a good idea to let your pet cat near a dirty fish tank.

Among the things that could happen is that the cat could potentially get a rash around the mouth and jaw area, whilst the water in the fish tank could get contaminated by the dirt and other particles found on a cat’s paws, if it decides to dip them in it.

Another important, but rare health concern is that your cat might develop urinary tract issues, such as kidney stones, which could be very painful and extremely dangerous if left untreated.

This is especially true for saltwater fish tanks and water with lots of minerals in it, which may cause a disbalance in your cat’s blood and urine.

However, dehydration is even worse for a cat, as it can cause severe issues with its kidneys. Therefore, sometimes it’s better to let the cat drink the fish tank water if it absolutely refuses any other water source.

Be careful never to let your cat near a fish tank when it’s being medicated, though, as this can cause severe health issues. Despite the possible health concerns, many cat owners reportedly allow their cats to drink from a fish tank.

Even in cases when there is the use of a dechlorinator in an aquarium, cats seem to be perfectly fine. In fact, this makes the water even more appealing, as it constantly gets filtered.

Your Cat Likes The Fish

As cats are predators that utilize their visual skills, it is no wonder that they will be very interested in the movement of your fish in a fish tank.

Be it an aquarium, a pond or a simple screensaver, your cat will focus the attention towards the fish, and maybe even try to reach them with its paws!

This is only natural since cats have been known to hunt any small animal for the sake of surviving. Rodents, birds or fish, nothing is safe from these graceful hunters.

It might be a good idea to place your cat’s favorite pillow somewhere near the aquarium, from which it can observe the fish without needing to get close – and get the idea to go for a drink!

How to Stop The Cat From Drinking Fish Tank Water

If you, by any chance, have a serious problem to keep your cat away from the fish tank, or if you are concerned about the fish or other aquatic animals that you might keep in an aquarium, there are ways to make your cat forget about the fish tank.

But it won’t be that easy since it takes a lot of patience and a lot of trial and error until the right mix is made.

1. Buy a bigger fish tank or a bigger bowl

If you provide your cat with a big bowl from which it can drink water without damaging her whiskers in the process, your cat will greatly appreciate it.

2. Get a cat water fountain

That’s right, there are water fountains designed specifically for cats that cater to their survival instinct and their great desire for fresh, running water.

3. Protect the fish tank

This means installing a very thick glass as the cover or even using a wooden surface to prevent cats from reaching the aquatic life living in the aquarium.4.

4. Cover the fish tank

Try covering the fish tank with a material that your cat really dislikes. You will only need to do this a couple of times until your cat forgets about approaching the aquarium.

5. Separate the cat food bowl from the water bowl

Cats prefer to have their water away from their food, so keeping them in the different areas of the room or even house is a good way to avert your cat from poking around the fish tank.

6. Make a routine

Cats are known to follow a routine and develop a striking habit of following a schedule. This is why you want to get them to drink water from an early age in the same manner over the years. This includes the same quantities of water, too.

7. Make sure the cat’s water bowl is clean

If you’re using a plastic water bowl, make sure to clean it frequently, as the bacteria can quickly build up. This buildup is one of the reasons your cat might try to look for a new source of water.

8. Place your cat’s water bowl on a high place

Elevating our cat’s water bowl or even hiding it away from sight might make it feel safer, and develop a habit of drinking water easier.

When an animal is drinking water in the wild, they’re often in danger from other predators, and this instinct could have stayed in your cat.

9. Train the cat to drink from its pet bowl

Training a cat can prove to be very difficult, but food is a great motivator. Give your cat a treat whenever it uses its water bowl, and soon enough it will learn to associate it with its favorite food!

10. Spray something a cat dislikes around the fish tank

If all else fails, using a natural repellant to keep your pet cat away from the fish tank might be your only option.

There are certain smells, like citrus or cinnamon, that a cat will be absolutely disgusted by. Spray them around your fish tank and your cat will stay away from it.

How much water does your cat need?

Sometimes, it can be frustrating for pet owners to figure out if their cat has had enough water during the day, or if there’s something wrong when it just won’t drink.

Cats are descendants of desert felines, which means that, a long time ago, they would have to survive in very warm places with very little water. This is why they developed the ability to retain water very efficiently.

Unlike humans, who need lots of water on a daily basis, cats should only drink enough water to sustain their small bodies, which means about 200ml of water daily for an adult cat.

However, this doesn’t account for wet food. If you give your cat wet food, it should pretty much be covered when it comes to her daily intake of liquids.

Be careful though, as certain wet food types contain a lot of salt, and we’ve already mentioned how too much salt can cause urinary tract issues in a cat, such as cat kidney stones and crystals.

Try to be consistent with how much water you give to your cat on a daily basis, for two reasons.

First, you will benefit from creating a habit your cat can follow, and second, any changes could be confusing for your cat, so if your cat finds less water in her bowl than she previously had, she might thing something is wrong and refuse to drink from it.

Try not to leave water in the cat’s water bowl for more than a few hours. By that time, the water will lose oxygen and get a little stale, and your cat will definitely feel it with its enhanced senses.

Remember that they’re very picky when it comes to the freshness of the water in their bowls!

How to save your fishbowl from your cat

Fishbowls are trickier than aquariums when it comes to keeping them safe from your cat’s paws. They won’t have a protective cover, and they usually don’t occupy a lot of space, so your cat can climb to them easily.

They’re usually just the right height for your cat to be able to drink from without hurting its whiskers, and she might try to set its teeth into the fish in it, while she’s at it.

This is another important concern, as not all raw fish are safe for a cat’s digestive system, and there’s even a danger of choking!

Fishbowls are also more fragile than aquariums, and easier for your cat to knock over, which can be dangerous for everyone involved, the cat, the fish, and you.

The glass could shatter and the water could spill all over your room. This is why it is extremely important not to let your cat anywhere near your fishbowl if you can prevent it. If not, then weighing it down or covering it might do the trick, for some time.

Just make sure your fish has enough air!


To sum up, generally it’s considered safe for your cat to drink fish tank water, but you should take a few precautions.

Never let your cat drink from an aquarium if it’s medicated, and make sure not to let her drink a lot of water that contains high levels of salt and other minerals.

Protect your fish by covering the aquarium either with a specialized “roof” or with a towel of some sort so that your cat can’t get to it as easily.

Make it difficult for your cat to approach the aquarium, but don’t punish her since it’s very difficult for cats to associate punishment with their behavior, so it won’t do anything except cause stress for your cat.

Finally, make sure you’ve done everything you can to make your cat water bowl appealing to your cat, and understand how its diet affects its need for fluid intake.

Do you think it’s safe for a cat to drink fish tank water? Does your cat have any quirks when it comes to drinking water? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear from you!


Why Does Your Cat Sleep on You?

How Often Are Cats In Heat?

Best Wet Cat Food Your Cat Will Simply Love

Best Cat Hair Removal Tools to Keep Your Home and Clothes Hair Free


One Response

  1. Mcmaya July 26, 2020

Leave a Reply