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Why Does My Cats Water Bowl Get Slimy? (Keeping Kitty’s Dish Clean)

You look at the cat’s water dish and it looks gross and wonder “Why does my cats water bowl get slimy?”

Today we’re going to take a look at what causes the slime in your kitty’s bowl of water, what’s in it and what you can do to prevent it. Have a plastic cat fountain? We’ll talk about that too.

why is my cats water bowl slimy

Taking care of a cat requires that owners know as much as possible about harmful bacteria they come into contact with, or at least have a basic understanding.

While an effort should be made to keep your cat well fed and hydrated, you should also pay attention to the containers you’re using to feed them with. This also includes food and water dishes that may be in their play areas, like a cat tree for example.

A cat will drink water from the closest available source. Indoors, it’s provided to them by the kitty’s parents. Much like humans, they need water several times a day to stay hydrated and wash their either their wet or dry cat food down.

Here’s a couple of basic questions; 

What about the water bowls they use to drink from? 

Are yours regularly washed? 

If not, here’s why you should:

The Slimy stuff floating in your cat’s water bowl.

Why Does My Cats Water Bowl Get Slimy?

Cat water bowls get slimy from an accumulation of bacteria that grows on and around the bowl called biofilm. Biofilm is made up of multiple varieties of different bacteria as well as the cat’s own saliva when it drinks.

If you wait too long to wash out your cat’s bowl, you’re guaranteed to see a slimy buildup, especially around the waterline and lower portion of the bowl area. Bowls with crevices and cracks in them could have more, as well some made of plastic material.

But even if using stainless steel, the slimy substance can develop when water is left to stagnate for a while.

The technical term for the substance is called biofilm and can come from places you may not have thought about before. Let’s take a further look into what biofilm is, why it occurs, and what you can do to prevent it from showing up in your cat’s water containers.

What Is BioFilm?

We just answered the “Why does my cat’s water bowl get slimy” question and we know the culprit is biofilm, but what the heck is it?

Biofilm is a collection of bacteria cultures that covers the surfaces of things like steel, tile, wood, ceramic, and grout. They can be easy to detect by running the hand over a pet bowl that hasn’t been cleaned out in a few days.

The slippery, slimy sensation is the biofilm, which becomes more profound the longer that water is left to stagnate in a bowl. Some bowls are naturally capable of slowing down the growth rate of biofilm, but even they can develop if a dish isn’t washed often enough.

Biofilm can consist of a different variety of bacteria, including E. coli. If this collective of germs is taken in by your cat, it can lead to them suffering from stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, and even more serious illnesses. The water that cats drink must be sanitized, and that includes the bowl that is poured in.

Cat Drinking Water Basics

There are a lot of good reasons why you would want t

Did you know that water is one of the reasons captive animals live longer than those in the wild? Animals in the outdoors routinely ingest water that’s riddled with harmful pathogens and parasitic organisms that can do lots more than give them an upset stomach.

Bad water is a primary cause of lowered life expectancy in the wild. As such, when pets have clean water to drink, they’re more likely to prosper into old age from having a cleaner digestive tract, fewer illnesses, and a stronger immune system. However, even the water that you think is clean could become just as bad as the puddles you’ve seen lions drinking from in a National Geographic documentary.

Does Your Cat’s Water Stagnate?

Left out for a while, water stagnates as it changes the temperature to that of its immediate surroundings.

When water is at an ideal acidity and is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria will thrive and rapidly grow along the edges of your cat’s water bowl, then continue throughout the bottom, clinging to the surfaces of anything that it touches.

If the material is porous, such as a plastic bowl, the germs could become embedded into the material, making it nearly impossible to wash out without leaving traces of bacteria around to grow again.

Bacteria require water to hydrate and flourish, just as pets do. If they’re deprived of that, the environment for them is more difficult to live in.

For clarity, here’s what causes the pathogens to grow:

  • Mild to warm temperatures – Bacteria love temps when they’re not too hot or cold. Add water, and it’s the perfect environment to cover the entirety of your cat’s bowl.
  • Careless dish washing – If you’re not thoroughly washing out your cat’s bowl, it won’t matter how often you do it. The bacteria will remain, and in some instances, stay due to holding firm to the surface, particularly dishes made with porous materials.
  • Cats and other animals – When more house pets drink water, they use their tongue to lap it up and put it into their mouth. As this occurs, saliva droplets are left in the water. Saliva is filled with bacteria, which can grow faster when more cats or other pets drink from the same source. This biofilm is what’s left, something that’s easy to unknowingly develop but is easily treatable.

Be Careful! Water sources that are unsafe, inadequate hygiene conditions, or exposure to feces-contaminated water may lead to gastroenteritis in cats.[1]

How Do I Prevent Bowl Slime?

Use these tips to prevent biofilm growth own in your pet’s drinking containers:

  • Wash out your cat’s bowl at least once every week – This is a very conservative number, one that’s best for people with no other cats or animals but one. It might be better that you clean the bowls once or twice a day, especially when other pets use them or the container is used to store large amounts of unused water.
  • Use dishes that are non-porous – Porous surfaces are anything that has small pores in the outer portion of the material. Plastics and wooden bowls are porous. Stainless steel and ceramic are better and have no lining that bacteria can penetrate through. They’re recommended first unless you can find a hard-coated plastic.
  • Clean, clean, and clean again – Wash out your cat’s bowl as often as you can when they’re living outside, the outdoors has more bacteria than the average home does, and the slim will show up faster. Use a scrubber to ensure there’s nothing left along the lining that you can’t see.

How To Clean a Plastic Cat Fountain

Cat fountains are one item that’s easy to skip when cleaning your pet’s food utensils and containers. Use a mild soap and scrubber to wipe away, paying extra details to the cracks and crevices. Make sure the water you clean with is warm and be thorough with the soap.

Soaking the dishes every once in a while in a sanitizing solution is a good idea as well. You don’t have to do this every day, but enough times to keep the slime away. You’ll find that this helps with ordinary bowls and toys, anything your cat touches with its mouth can be cleaned like this.

Why does my cats bowl get slimy… Summary

As a pet owner, you want to provide your cat with healthy products and a cleaning standard that’s safe for them and other pets. Hopefully we’ve been able to answer “Why does my cat’s water bowl get slimy” and give you some options to deal with biofilm.

If you notice biofilm on your cat’s bowls, use the suggestions above. If your feline friend is having a minor health problem, it might be the remedy that fixes it.

Related Article: Why is My Cat Afraid of a Water Fountain?

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