The Case of the Cat and the Water Glass

In the middle of the night, a few weeks ago, I heard a noise that sounded like the sound you make when you’re licking your chops after eating a big piece of cake. Only the chop-licking wasn’t chop-licking, it was water-lapping and it was happening on my nightstand at 3:30 in the morning. Lolita, everyone’s favorite cat, has gotten into the habit of drinking out of our water glasses, so much so that now it’s almost an addiction. I have to sleep with my arm extended outwards to block her path. Sometimes she ignores the arm and still makes a lunge for the water; when I lift her away, she gives an angry “meow.” What’s got into my cat?

Long time readers of the blog may remember a similar post from 2005 called “Lolita Likes Adam Water.” In that case, I would sometimes catch Lolita lapping water out of my glass while I was working at my desk. No biggie.

But now? We’ll be at the breakfast table, eating waffles, and across the way spy Lolita leaning over the coffee table with a water glass on it. And there she goes…


Anticipating your comments, I’ll tell you that: yes, she has a clean bowl of water every morning and every night. I even started pouring her filtered water from the Brita thinking maybe that’s what she’s attracted to. Makes no difference. Someone on Instagram suggested I keep the food separate from the water, that maybe she doesn’t like to eat where she drinks, so maybe I’ll try that.

Otherwise, I’m going to have to start washing my water glasses more thoroughly. Or put books on top of them before I go to sleep. This cat is out of control.

51 thoughts on “The Case of the Cat and the Water Glass”

  1. My roommate’s cat has abandoned the water bowl and will only drink water out of the flower vase. We just let him do his thing and keep it filled to the brim, even with no flowers in it.

  2. I have to keep a separate glass on my bedside table for one of my cats. She just prefers to drink out of a glass, rather than out of a bowl.

  3. I have the same problem and bought a set of insulated cold drink cups that come with lids and straws.

  4. Cats also love drinking water that has plants growing in it. I have a water plant sitting in a large wide mouth vase on my desk that I keep full to the top. The cat now goes for that instead of my water. Also I switched from drinking glasses to mason jars for my night water, and it is harder for her to get in so she doesn’t try anymore. Maybe give that a shot!

  5. My cats do the same thing, so there are a couple of things I do: 1) buy glasses with lids and use them. 2) Don’t leave a glass of water unattended and 3) warn any visitors about potential kitty water stealing!

  6. Our cats do this. They just like what we have. They have three water bowls scattered around the apartment, all constantly refreshed, but they only want what we have. I’ve learned to drink out of water bottles instead of glasses, so now the cats drink out of the faucets in the sinks and the bathtub. Cats are weird.

  7. One of my cats likes to drink running water out of the sink. During the winter, when we keep a tap dribbling to prevent frozen pipes, she uses that one. The rest of the year, she climbs up on the sink in the bathroom and “yells” until we turn it on to a trickle for her (for a minute or two at a time).

  8. My cat does that, too! I just try to not fill the glass all the way up (so she does try because she knows she can’t reach the water). It did freak me out last year to discover that she thinks that we should share a “water dish.”

  9. My cat has started to do that, so I found a travel mug top that fits my water glass perfectly and put it on the glass every night…

  10. My theory is that cats always prefer “found” water. Maybe it makes me more exciting that they discovered it rather than their stupid boring water dish :-)

  11. My cat does the same thing! I now use the cup with the lid on my nightstand and don’t leave water laying around the house. Silly cats.

  12. simply a cat thing…whenever I leave a glass on a low table my large cat puts his head in it looking for a drink. I think they just enjoy the challenge of it.

  13. My kitten does this too. She LOVES the freshest water, so even if I refill her bowl first, pouring my subsequent glass therefore makes it the freshest water in the room and she will go for it. Use those little saucers to cover your glass overnight.

    At least you don’t wake up to find “drowned” catnip mice brewing in your water glass…. (true story.)

  14. Is her water dish plastic? Maybe get a glass bowl (or wide brimmed glass) for her?

    p.s. She is a beautiful cat. I can see why she’s everyone’s favorite cat!

  15. I have a cat just like this. wherever there is a glass, he will go to it and drink. Needless to say, we wash a lot of glasses. He also likes to climb into our birds cage to drink his water (don’t worry the bird is safe) and he also appreciates when I turn on the faucet for him to drink right off the tap at the bathroom sink. Cats take what they want, which I love.

  16. My cat does not drink our water, but does like to knock it over. I’ve resorted to drinking out of a (reusable) water bottle all the time, which actually works fine. :)

    1. My kitten did that too and I resorted to a bottle…till she began playing with claws out at crazy o’clock and eventually nearly scratched my eye….she was out of the bedroom at night for two years!

    2. My kitten did that too and I resorted to a bottle…till she began playing with claws out at crazy o’clock and eventually nearly scratched my eye….she was out of the bedroom at night for two years!

  17. My cat does that too! I have to sleep with the door closed so I don’t end up spit swapping with my cat. He also jumps in the bidet, knowing that water comes out of the spout and whines so I will turn it on for him. How he figured that out, since I never use it, I’ll never know. He favors the bathtub, showers, kitchen sink, water glasses…I can’t figure it out because he gets fresh water. I, like you, am perplexed.

  18. Our cat does that too! I asked her vet about it and he said cats generally prefer fresh water and that’s probably why she was stealing from our glasses. We got her one of those cat fountains that constantly has water flowing through it and that seemed to appease her, but it didn’t survive a cross-country move and we haven’t replaced it. Now she has a regular water bowl and also a designated glass (it’s mismatched from our other glasses, so it’s easy to know it’s hers) that we keep on the counter and let her drink from. When she wants it, she usually sits at the kitchen door and meows until one of us fills the glass with fresh water and sets it on the floor for her to drink from. So far it keeps her happy and has stopped her from stealing water from other glasses.

  19. Mine do that too… at least it’s not as bad as when I had Molly, who would just swat the water glass off the table. I had to go to a water bottle w/drinking spout for bedside.

  20. Our cats also love sticking their faces and paws into pretty much any liquid container: glasses, bowls with soup, the sink, the toilet, you name it. We successfully trained them out of the glasses (at least) by spraying them with a water bottle every time they stick their face in. Now our boy cat still stares wistfully every time we fill one, but he also keeps his distance (sometimes he does this ninja stalk up to it, but he squints because he thinks he’s going to get sprayed, and usually chickens out before he gets too close)

    Keep a spray bottle by your bedside table and spritz her a little every time she sticks her face in the glass. It will at least deter her from doing it in front of you. Maybe consider getting one of those cat fountains?

  21. I’m not sure my cat ever drinks from her water bowl… she much prefers to drink from the faucets. I’ve been thinking about getting her a fountain. I had cats growing up that drank from our water glasses, so far Lily doesn’t do that but then I mostly drink from a plastic or metal bottle so she’s not had much of a chance.

  22. How much water is she drinking? Is it more than usual? If so, you might take her to the vet for a checkup. Animals can get diabetes too, of which more than usual water drinking can be a symptom.

  23. One of my cats has always done this. He has 2 filtered water fountains, 2 clean water bowls (one glass, one stainless steel, both cleaned 2 times daily). He uses all of them, but still goes after the water glasses. He has his own glass on the nightstand now, and I keep mine covered.

  24. our cats have their own water glass on the coffee table. they know not to drink out of ours, but go directly to their 1 glass, which they share. we keep it filled. they also have access to clean water in bowls and even a fountain in other areas of the house. they drink that water too, but they really love drinking it from the glass. it’s weird, but we figure there’s no harm in it. :)

  25. My cats do this, too. Now they have their own glass, which I refill every night. I think it’s part of their of their group bonding experience with me.

  26. My Diva used to insist on drinking water from a trickling bathroom faucet at my last house (drove me crazy if she got thirsty in the middle of the night) but at this new house the water from the tap goes directly down the drain and doesn’t pool first. So she doesn’t want it. I think that since every time I’m in the bathroom taking pills etc. and she’s always with me and totally bonded, she wants to drink what I drink. So she has a glass of water sitting on a small dish to catch the spills on the bathroom vanity. That’s her only water source now and I clean and refill it @ twice a day.

  27. I can’t trust my cats to not knock over my water glass, so if I need water near the bed, I just use my water bottle. My cats really like to drink out of the bathroom tap too. Last year I found out one of my cats has kidney disease though, and that’s why he drinks so much water. It’s much more common in male cats though, and there were other signs. Anyway, some cats just like fresh water. I have a fountain for mine too.

  28. It would be bad enough if Zoe only drank out of my water glass, but she usually sticks her paw in and licks that. She does that with her water bowl too, but still, my glass??? I’ve been perching a book on it as prevention and so far she hasn’t knocked it off.

  29. I say that she’s just smart and perhaps a bit lazy. My siamese cat used to do this exact thing, except she’d also get a kick out of knocking the glass off it’s perch when she was done drinking out of it. I had to start keeping bottled water on my night stand from one too many glasses of water getting splashed on me in my sleep!

  30. I have the SAME problem with my cat Bubala and I have to do the same thing – books on my water glass. wth is that all about?? he’s so fascinated with glasses of water. very confounding…

  31. Do you have a ceramic dish for her water bowl? She might not light the ‘taste’ of a metal one, and plastic ones are bad for cats because they give them cat acne on account of the bacteria that inserts itself in the plastic. Also, if she’s getting on in years, it might not be comfortable for her to drink out of something on the floor and the higher water level in your glass might be easier.

    I have a couple of Siamese, the elder one, Cicely, loves to ‘dip’ her dry food in the water, in which case the younger, Carwyn, will not drink out of it. I end up giving them water 4x a day.

    Of course, she is a cat and may just be doing it to annoy the hell out of you.

  32. Two comments that might be helpful:

    (1) Cats instinctively prefer to have their water away from their food. It’s been explained to me that, in the wild, cats learned over millennia of evolution that any water source immediately adjacent to a fresh kill could be contaminated.

    (2) Cats prefer moving water. If you’re looking to try some positive reinforcement, you might get a small water fountain designed for pets. Not only do cats prefer moving water as a function of play, but it keeps the temperature of the water cool, aids in filtration (depending on the water fountain model you use), and encourages cats to drink more water, which is especially important for cats who live primarily on dry cat food.

  33. I have the same type of cat. He has water issues too. He will only drink from a hamster water bottle when I squeeze it into his mouth. He is a great cat but have no idea what type of cat he is.

  34. Renia Ellen Saddler

    Cat likes to do that, too. I switched to drinking water from a metal, in order to avoid having to constantly watch her or be paranoid about sipping slimy water with little particles in it. (Plastic bottles always eventually lead to plastic flavored water).
    She likes pawing in glasses and drinking from them, along with her water bowl. I suspect she may be cleaning her paws after litter visits, as she is very cleanly.

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