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Why Does My Cat’s Water Bowl Get Slimy? 3 Typical Reasons & Solutions

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

a tabby cat sitting next to a bowl of water

As a pet parent, you want your cat to be healthy, happy, and energetic. You take them to their regular checkups with the vet, feed them the best, protein-packed, high-quality cat food, and clean after them religiously.

Still, it seems that every time you look at your cat’s water bowl, it has slime on the bottom of it. Why? What’s the reason behind the pinkish slime?

The pinkish residue you see in the bottom of your cat’s bowl is called biofilm slime, but we’ll talk more about that and how dangerous it is to your cat in the section below.

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The 3 Reasons Your Cat’s Water Bowl Gets Slimy

1. Mild to Warm Temperatures

Bacteria develop in water that isn’t too hot but isn’t too cold. When you leave your cat’s water in the bowl for hours, you present bacteria with the perfect opportunity to form.

cat drinking water
Photo Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

2. Cats and Other Animals

The more cats and other animals you have drinking out of your water bowls, the quicker the slime in the bottom will develop. When your pets drink the water, they use their tongues to lap it up, leaving droplets of saliva behind in the bowl.

Of course, salvia is full of bacteria, which in turn causes the bacteria to form in the bowl and become biofilm.

3. Careless Dishwashing

If you’re not entirely washing the cat’s water bowl before refilling it, you’re allowing the bacteria to stay in the bowl. Eventually, it starts to build up, especially if the bowl is made out of a porous material.

These are just a few of the reasons that your cat’s water stagnates and biofilm starts to grow. We’ll examine biofilm and give you some tips on keeping it from forming in your beloved feline’s bowl.

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Ways to Prevent Bowl Slime

Before we talk about the ways to prevent the slime build-up in your cat’s bowl, you first need to know what biofilm is.

Biofilm is a bacterium that covers objects such as ceramic, steel, wood, grout, tile, and plastic, to name a few. You can tell if your cat’s water bowl is full of biofilm by running your hand around the bowl after it hasn’t been washed in a few days.

Biofilm can contain e coli and other bacteria, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and severe illnesses for your cat 1. A cat’s water must be sanitized, fresh, and safe to drink, or they will get sick.

Here are some ways to prevent that slime from developing.

Clean, Clean, Clean

The cleaner your cat’s bowl is, the safer it’ll be for the cat. Wash your cat’s bowl more often if they live outside, as bacteria tend to grow faster outdoors. Also, make sure you use a scrubber on the bowl to ensure there’s no slime in the creases you might miss.

Wash Your Cat’s Bowl Once a Week

It’s best to wash your cat’s bowl at least once a week, but a daily rinse will help prevent biofilm. This is especially important if you have more than one animal drinking out of the same bowl. If you have more than one cat, or if the bowl is designed to hold massive quantities of water, it’s best to wash it out twice a day.

washing dog food bowl
Photo By: MargaPl, Shutterstock

Always Use Dishes that Are Non-Porous

One of the best ways to ensure your cat’s bowl is clean, besides washing it, is to use non-porous dishes. A porous bowl has tiny holes in the outer part of the material.

These pores collect the bacteria, leading to slime. Plastic and wooden bowls are porous, whereas stainless steel and ceramic aren’t and are because they don’t have a lining for the bacteria to seep through and collect in.

It’s best to use ceramic and steel unless you can find bowls made of hard, coated plastic, then they should be okay to use.

These are just a few ways to take care of your cat’s water bowls to ensure they don’t get sick from drinking the water. Of course, we all want our cats to be healthy and happy, so ensuring they have fresh water in a clean bowl is a step in the right direction.

Contact your vet immediately if you feel your cat has been sickened by a water dish.

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Hopefully, these tips will help you keep your pet’s water bowl clean and your cat healthy for many years.

Remember, it’s best to use bowls that are non-porous, and always make an appointment with your vet for a checkup if you feel a bowl of water has made your feline pal sick.


Featured Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

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