Why Do Cats Like to Lick Bathtubs?

Caitlin Dempsey


Gray tabby cat licking a bathtub.

Cats can be silly creatures. Recently, my female gray tabby has developed the habit of licking the side of our bathtub. I am used to my cats enjoying a drink of water from the bathtub, but this was a new and curious behavior.

No one seems to know for sure why cats enjoy licking the sides of a bathtub but there are some hypotheses out there. Unless your cat has a medical issue and you keep your bathtub free of toxic residue, licking the bathtub is mostly a harmless behavior.

It feels more like a natural source of water

After you’re done bathing or showering, the sides of the bathtub are still wet. Your cat may be licking the tub to drink the last few droplets water still on the sides and bottom of your tub.

Some experts suggest that your cat’s fascination with your bathtub stems from their innate desire to find fresh and running sources of water.

An orange tabby drinking water in a bathtub.
Cats love to drink fresh water from bathtubs.

Cats tend to like fresh sources of water placed away from their food bowls and litter boxes, so the bathroom tends to be a natural place for your feline to find water. To satisfy my cats’ water needs, I fill a bowl with water every day that I leave in the shower stall.

One of my cats is so enamored with drinking water from the bathroom that she will willingly stand in ankle-deep water to drink. This is the same black cat that will fight me tooth and nail when it comes time to bathe her.

Black cat licking water from a bathtub.

There may be something in your bath water your cat likes

I noticed my cat started her habit of licking the bathtub after I started adding coconut oil to my daughter’s bath to combat her eczema. My tabby may simply like the smell and taste of coconut oil and is licking the bathtub to lick up any leftover residue. Since coconut oil has both external and internal benefits for cats, I am not too bothered by her habit.

Gray tabby cat licking a bathtub.
Your cat may lick the sides of your bathtub because he or she likes the taste.

Just make sure you don’t leave any toxic residue on the sides of your bathtub if your cat has a habit of licking. I always make sure to rinse out the bathtub after it has been used in order to wash away any soap residue. When cleaning the bathtub, make sure to use non-toxic cleaners and rinse the tub thoroughly. (Related: Cats Can’t Taste Sweetness)

The surface feels nice and cool

Cats are sensory animals. Licking the smooth and cool surface of your bathtub may simply be enjoyable to them. Even on a hot day, porcelain tubs remain cool to the touch and your cat may enjoy the feeling of licking the sides.

So, if your cat loves to lick your bathtub and is in good health, simply treat this habit as a fun quirk. If you have concerns, make sure you keep your bathroom closed.

Black cat licking her lips in a bathtub.


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey holds both a master's in Geography from UCLA and a Master of Library and Information Science. She is the editor of Geographyrealm.com and an avid researcher of geography and feline topics. A lifelong cat owner, Caitlin currently has three rescued cats: an orange tabby, a gray tabby, and a black cat.