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Is it safe to drink water after my cat?

As pet owners, we share a special bond with our furry companions and often engage in activities together, including sharing space and resources. One common question that arises is whether it is safe to drink water after our cats. After all, cats have an instinctual grooming behavior and their mouths can harbor bacteria and other pathogens. In this article, we will explore the topic of drinking water after your cat and consult with expert opinion to help us understand the potential risks and precautions to consider.

Expert Opinion – Dr. Chris Miller, AtlasVet DC

Seeking expert advice is always helpful when it comes to the health and well-being of our pets. Dr. Chris Miller, a veterinarian at AtlasVet DC, confirms that drinking after your cat is highly unlikely to cause any significant health concerns. In fact, he explains that the mouths of cats are relatively clean compared to other animals, and the chances of transmitting pathogens through sharing water are minimal.

Understanding the Cat’s Mouth and Behavior

To better understand why drinking water after your cat is generally safe, let’s delve into the natural grooming behavior of cats and the cleanliness of their mouths. Cats are known for their meticulous self-grooming routines, which not only help keep their fur clean but also assist in maintaining oral hygiene. They use their rough tongues to remove debris from their fur, which helps remove food particles and bacteria from their mouths.

Additionally, cats have a natural instinct to keep themselves clean. They groom themselves multiple times a day, ensuring that their mouth and paws are free of dirt and contaminants. This self-cleaning behavior contributes to maintaining a relatively clean mouth for cats.

However, it is important to note that while a cat’s mouth can be generally clean, regular dental care is still essential for their overall health. Just like humans, cats are susceptible to dental issues such as tartar buildup, gum disease, and tooth decay. Regular brushing or veterinary dental cleanings can help prevent these issues and promote good oral health.

Potential Risks of Drinking After Your Cat

Though the likelihood of contracting a harmful infection from drinking water after your cat is generally low, it doesn’t mean there are no risks involved. Some potential bacterial or viral pathogens can be present in a cat’s mouth, which could potentially be transmitted through sharing water. However, the chances of transmission are typically very slim, especially if your cat is in good overall health and up to date on vaccinations.

Certain bacteria, such as Pasteurella, can be found in a cat’s oral cavity and may cause infections if introduced into the human body. However, it is worth noting that Pasteurella infections in humans are relatively rare and usually occur in individuals with compromised immune systems.

Similarly, cats can sometimes carry the bacterium Bartonella henselae, which can cause cat-scratch disease in humans. However, this bacterium is primarily transmitted through cat scratches or bites, rather than through sharing water.

Precautions to Take When Drinking After Your Cat

While the risks associated with drinking water after your cat are minimal, it is still advisable to take some precautions to ensure the health and safety of both you and your feline friend. Here are some recommendations:

1. Maintain a clean environment for your cat: Regularly clean and disinfect your cat’s water bowls or trays to prevent the buildup of bacteria. Use mild detergents and thoroughly rinse them before refilling with fresh water.

2. Encourage cats to drink from their own water source: Providing separate water sources for you and your cat can minimize the need for sharing. Cats prefer fresh and clean water, so having their own water bowl or fountain can entice them to drink from their own source.

3. Practice good personal hygiene: Wash your hands with soap and water after handling your cat or their belongings. This simple practice helps prevent the spread of any potential pathogens and ensures your own health.

Health Concerns for Cat Owners

It’s important to note that while drinking water after your cat is generally safe, there are other health concerns that cat owners should be aware of. Cats can transmit certain zoonotic diseases to humans, which are diseases that can be passed between animals and people. These include:

– Toxoplasmosis: A parasitic infection that can be found in cat feces. Pregnant women and individuals with weakened immune systems should take extra precautions when handling cat litter or coming into contact with potentially contaminated areas.

– Cat Allergies: Some individuals may develop allergies to cats, causing symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and respiratory issues. Regular cleaning and air purification can help minimize allergic reactions.

– Ringworm: A fungal infection that can be transmitted from cats to humans. It typically causes a circular rash on the skin and can be treated with antifungal medications.

Practicing good hygiene, regular veterinary care, and keeping your cat’s living environment clean and flea-free are important measures for preventing these zoonotic diseases.


In conclusion, drinking water after your cat is highly unlikely to pose any significant health risks. The natural grooming behavior of cats and their relatively clean mouths contribute to the safety of sharing water. However, it is important to maintain a clean environment for your cat, encourage them to drink from their own water source, and practice good personal hygiene. Additionally, staying up to date with your cat’s vaccinations and regular veterinary care is essential for their overall health and well-being.

Remember, the bond between you and your cat is a special one, and with proper precautions, you can continue to enjoy their companionship without worrying about the safety of sharing water.


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