What’s With Cats and Water Bowls?

WaterBowl-Cats-01Do you often find more water ON the floor than IN the water bowl itself? Does your cat play with the water, bat at the water, dip a paw in the water, and lick off the droplets?

If so, here, according to some cat behaviorists, are the most common reasons for kitty’s kinky antics.

WaterBowl-Cats-03Play Behavior:

Many cats view water in a bowl as an irresistible game. Since it moves with the slightest touch, they quickly learn that the more they splash, the more it moves. Cats allowed to drink from a faucet may also develop this behavior because they expect THAT water to move. Cats deprived of adequate stimulation may also use water splashing as a chance to both play and banish some of their boredom.

Paw Dippers:

Cats averse to putting their faces in the water bowl may, instead, dip their paws in the bowl and then lick the water from their fur. If the water level in the bowl is inconsistent, cats may also choose to paw dip.


Fearful of having their vision obscured or feelings of being at risk may cause some cats to spill the water out of the bowl in order to lick it off the floor. This behavior can also result from the bowl being too deep, too small or too big, or its being located in an unappealing place.

WaterBowl-Cats-02 Reflections:

When cats see their reflections in or glints of light bouncing off the water’s surface and bat at them – whether experimentally or enthusiastically – the results can range from spilled water to overturned bowls.

To alter your kitty’s kooky behavior, begin by re-evaluating the type of bowl you’re using. If it’s a lightweight one, replace it with a heavy ceramic or glass bowl that your cat can’t knock over. Make certain that its size and type are appropriate for your cat. (Short-nosed breeds, such as Persians, balk at bumping their noses into the sides of too-narrow bowls). To protect your floor, set your bowl on a specially designed pet place mat with raised edges.

If, on the other hand, you feel your cat’s behavior is born of boredom and therefore play related, provide her with more visual and physical stimulation and enrich her overall environmental. Add puzzle feeders to the picture to keep her occupied when she’s at home alone. And increase your daily, interactive play sessions — replete with tasty treats as rewards — to teach her that playing with toys is far more satisfying than playing with water.

Nomi Berger

Nomi Berger

Nomi Berger is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver, WA and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA. For more information about Furry Friends visit www.furryfriendswa.org or contact them at information@furryfriendswa.org or (360) 993-1097

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