close up of a cat drinking from a large dish tongue out

Can Cats Drink Cold Water?

Can cats drink cold water? Yes, they can and in most instances, they prefer cold water. Cats associate cold water with freshness and cleanliness so are more inclined to drink cold water and will most likely drink more water if chilled.

Find out more about cats and their preferred water temperature here. Read on to learn more.

Do Cats Prefer Cold Water To Warm Water?

Generally speaking, more cats prefer colder water to warm water. In fact, cats seem to drink more water when the water is cold than when it is ambient or warm. So yes, cats prefer cold water.

Why is this? It is generally thought that colder water represents a cleaner, moving water which is, therefore, fresher and this is the cat’s preferred choice in nature.

black and white cat drinking cold water from a fountain on an icy winter day
I like it cold…

Any Benefits To Giving Your Cat Cold Water?

Ok, so cats prefer colder water but does it really matter? Are there any specific benefits that will help my cat or improve their quality of life?

The main benefits of giving your cat cold drinking water are that :

Your Cat May Drink More And Be Better Hydrated.

Cats don’t have much of a thirst. They are descended from desert animals. Their bodies are evolved to retrieve a high percentage of the moisture they need from their food as running water is not exactly abundant in desert locations. 

In the modern world, eating dry diets can be problematic with regard to hydration. Anything that stimulates their thirst and gets them drinking is good.  

Your cat is likely to perceive cold water to be more natural, free from bacteria, and less likely to have been standing and entice them to drink more – think of it as cat champagne – a free slug is going to be hard to turn down! 

When they are on a dry cat food diet this is really good. Cats on such diets are not often well hydrated and dehydrated cats are prone to kidney issues and bladder stone issues over the longer term. A cat that drinks well will be more healthy in the long run and hopefully, avoid such problems.

young female tabby cat rolling on back exposing tummy on a brick floor
These tiles are cool…

Helpful For Body Temperature Regulation

Humans sweat, dogs pant but what about cats? 

Cats groom themselves cool and use conduction – lying up on cold surfaces.  

How does a cat groom cool? They deposit saliva over their fur and skin which then evaporates away taking body heat with it. It is like us sweating and uses the same principle except the sweat has to be put there manually by a cat whilst over bodies just naturally release moisture through our skin to get the heat evaporation process moving!

So how can cold drinking water help? Well if you’re grooming and depositing saliva due to heat you’re going to get a dry mouth so the water helps but also cool water will just naturally lower the temperature on the inside as it is drunk. Your cat’s body will naturally conduct some of that cold as it is taken on board. Most important is that your cat will just feel a momentary refreshing cold sensation and look for more of the same. Higher hydration should help with heat regulation.

grey and white persian licking ice cubes in a bowl
Keep the ice coming!

Can Cats Drink Ice Water?

What about ice water or water with ice cubes? Is that ok for your cat? Yes, it is not a problem. It is a good idea to put an ice cube in their water bowl when the weather is warmer so they have a refreshing cool drink if they need it.

However, ice cubes or slushy ice water comes with some issues that you should know about.

Your cat is likely to find ice cubes intriguing. The chances are the paw is going to come into play and curiosity will ensue. There is a high chance that they are going to end up making a mess playing with ice cubes that bob about in the water. Be prepared for a lot of spilled water – just saying!

They might get brain freeze. You know how we get brain freeze when we eat ice cream? Your cat will get brain freeze with ice water! How do you know your cat has brain freeze? They will gape their mouths whilst drawing in a deep breath. Check the vid! 

However, the ice cubes will give them some mental stimulus as they play and lick them and generally get to grips with the odd, refreshing item in the bowl.

So ice cubes and ice water can be a good thing, especially in hot weather!

a ginger and white tabby kitten checking out a bowl of water outdoors
If it’s cold I am giving it a miss…

My Cat Only Likes Warm Water?

Some people like hot coffee and some prefer ice coffee and some like both. 

Same with cats, some enjoy the cold water, and some like tepid or ambient temperature water. Don’t feel too put out if your cat doesn’t favor cold water – that’s just how it goes sometimes!

On balance, a higher proportion of cats seem to enjoy drinking cold water and drink it in higher volumes than no cold water.

What about kittens? Some kittens won’t drink water initially and some kittens are notorious for only liking warm water. Some think this may be because they associate all liquids with mother’s milk initially, and this is always body temperature!

Feeding kittens cold or ice water might not work as you hope till they have learned the benefits of a cold drink in hot weather!

a cat drinking from a kitchen tap
Chateau Neuf De Cat – lovely…

Which Water Is My Cat Most Likely To Drink?

Is your cat looking at water but not drinking? You probably need to tempt them to drink! Your cat is most likely to drink running water that is cold, hasn’t come from a tap, and is not located close to food sources. That is cat champagne. 

How can you provide such a drink and get your cat drinking more and hydrating well? You can get a filter jug to strip chemicals like chlorine out of tap water, refrigerate the jug, and put the water in a cat fountain as your cat needs. Keep the fountain away from food areas as that can be off-putting for your cat.

Alternatively, you can get a cooling bowl. These work without electricity. The bowl walls contain crystals that absorb cold and radiate cold temperatures for a long period. You stick the bowl in a freezer overnight, the crystal freezes, and then the bowl will stay chilled for up to 15 hours keeping your cat’s water cool – it just won’t be running water or contains fun making ice cubes!

Final Thoughts

Can cats drink cold water? A supply of cold, fresh drinking water may be preferable to your cat over standard ambient tap or bottled water. Give it a go and see if your cat drinks more than usual.