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Pet Quirks: “Why do our cats drink bath water?”

Cat drinking from bathtub
“After anyone takes a bath in our house, when the water has drained from the tub our two cats can’t wait to jump in and drink the water that’s left. They don’t seem to be attracted to the soap – we tried 5 different soaps and shampoos and they still do it. They drink from their water bowl so it’s not lack of clean water. We don’t mind that they do this, but we wonder why.”

Their two young cats explain the appeal.

Viper and Merlin, sisters not quite a year old, tell me they’re both totally enthralled by the idea of drinking the bath water. Their anticipation and excitement builds as the time draws near. They try be patient as they wonder “Is it time yet?” and say to each other “Let’s wait until they start taking their shoes off, then their clothes off”, that’s the signal it’s close to time.

As they wait for the person to finish their bath, Merlin thinks of how the person’s toes would wiggle in the shallow water in the tub while ‘rain’ falls down on them from the showerhead or sponge. She thinks how fun it would be to play with those toes! Both cats become increasingly impatient waiting for the bath to finish. Viper says she paces back and forth at the door while Merlin prefers to lay down in sphinx pose and wait. “We wonder when you’re gonna get out of there. Come ON!” To show their interest Viper wiggles her nose at the person in the bath and Merlin wiggles her tail. They say to the person “Let’s get going!” By the time the person is (finally!) done with their bath, the cats can barely contain their excitement. They think “Hurry up and get out of the way! We want in! We want in!”

When the tub has nearly drained both cats jump in and drink what’s left. “We want to have warm in our tummies” Viper says but that’s not the main reason they like to drink bath water. They do it “Because we want to taste the water that swirls around your feet. We want to get drunk on your love.” The bath water contains love that is washed off her humans’ auras or energy fields and she wants to drink it all and not let any of it go to waste.

Merlin’s fascination is different. “I want the floor to stop receding.” The surface of the shallow water in the tub looks to her like the ‘floor’ of the tub. As the water drains, it’s confusing to her how the floor can get lower and lower. That makes her want to drink the water to prevent the floor from falling away. As she watches the water drain she tries to make sense of what she sees. “I want to know where it goes.” She’s very curious about what happens to the water. She knows it goes in the hole but then what happens to it? “I wonder if it goes all the way around the world.” She imagines it might go through the drain hole, under the house to the earth’s surface and then circle all around the earth like groundwater. “I wonder why they wash their hair in that?” – in that same groundwater that she sees outside mixed with dirt. She also wonders if it’s connected to the water in the oceans were people swim.

The flavors of the soap and shampoo in the water don’t bother them. Viper says “Mm, it’s all well, it doesn’t matter, it’s all water at the bottom.” Merlin agrees, she says the only bad thing about bath water is that standing in it makes her feet sweat. “I don’t want to walk around with my toes all wet.”

Drinking water in the bathtub is so much more interesting than water in their bowl because “The water in the bathtub floats!” Viper notices the soap suds and soap residue are floating on the surface of the water and that makes it so much more interesting and curious. “It welcomes us to float in it too.” The water seems to have more body because it can hold up the soap residue, and she feels the water invites them to swim in it, be on top of it, enjoy its buoyancy.

Merlin can’t stop talking about her interest in where the water goes, how it moves, the way it swirls gently as it goes down the drain, and watching the soap bubbles float on top. It has more to do with patterns of the water movement for her. “I like to watch it travel wherever it goes, wherever it leads” including into her mouth.

I wonder what they think about water coming from the sink faucets. Viper explains “That’s rainwater, that’s different” because it’s falling from above. They both prefer water that has had a chance to puddle. Merlin agrees puddles are fun and she likes to touch them. There’s a very slight resilience to the surface, similar to the way a water droplet holds itself together, and she likes to touch that springy surface of the water.

How would they feel if they were not allowed to drink bath water? Merlin becomes anxious just thinking about it. “Oh, wh-where will we go, wh-wh-what will we do if we can’t do that? I wouldn’t know where to put my energy.” Viper is more practical: “I would just drink milk.”