This Is Why Your Cat Moves Their Water Dish Before Drinking
Its one of those little niggles that often pesters you at the back of your mind but youve never really looked into just why does your cat insist on moving their water dish across the floor before taking a drink?
Not every cat does this, granted, but many feline owners will notice the quirky habit of their beloved pet. It doesnt seem to matter where you place the dish or how clean it is, they will drag it across the floor a bit before dipping their head in. And, more often than not, they will make a mess while doing it!
There is a perfectly good reason they do this it isnt just to make you have something to clean up. The close up vision of cats is much weaker than their long distance vision and so, when they are right at their water dish, they cant see the water level.
In order to check where the water starts or if there is even any water in the dish they will move it to cause the water to ripple and splash. Once they are satisfied they know where the water is, then they will commence their drinking.
There are a number of other reasons why your cat might splash about in their water too, according to Webvet.
Meanwhile, heres a cat drinking in super slow motion just because:
They Do See Their Reflection Could That Be Another Cat Whack
Or, its too deep. A cat might feel unsafe dipping its head into the unknown and so will deliberately spill so it can drink from the solid and familiar surface of the floor.
And finally, the taste of plastic. Many cats can taste the plastic of their dish in the water so sometimes a metal or glass container is better suited to them.
Why Does My Cat ‘swim’ Around The Water Dish And My Dog Bark At The Tv
The oldest of our two cats has the habit of standing in front of his water dish and making movements as if he were swimming while drinking his water or even when done eating. His little brother likes to paw at the area, but it’s not really the swimming motion that his big brother does. These two are rescued kitten, and we can’t imagine life without them.
Alexia & Dave, Hopkins, MN
Dear Alexia and Dave,
Cats often exhibit inexplicable behaviors, and this “swimming” behavior around the food and water bowls sort of falls into that category. It sounds like your cat is pawing around the water dish, and not pawing the water itself, since you said he was doing it while drinking.
But cats can and will do both.
They have scent glands on their paws and may be marking their territory around their food and water dishes. They also are fascinated with movement and like to play with their food and water, reminiscent of what they might do in the wild if they caught a small animal or insect. So, while the behavior is fairly common among cats, it sounds like your oldest cat has developed a unique way of displaying this behavior.
We would hate to have to send her away, but there is no peace any evening. I’ve attached a short video of her antics. Please advise.
Ray, Orland Park, IL
Thank you for firing the trainer. No one should ever yell, scream or push a dog around during training, ever. Good riddance to them.
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Quick Tip: How To Clean A Water Bowl
When a cat dips a paw in a water bowl, then dirt, bits of litter, and other debris wash from the paw. This helps bacteria to build up in the bowl. To clean the bowl, use a mild dish soap, thoroughly rinse removing any trace of it, then refill the bowl with fresh water.
Do your cats touch water before drinking?
Disclaimer: This post contains our partner links
Tipping And/or Knocking Over Water
Lots of cats tip over their water bowls, completely toppling their dishes and spilling the water inside all over the floor.
This behaviour can be pretty frustrating for pet owners, who have to deal with watery messes as well as potential damage of carpeting or wood over time through repeated exposure to water thats not quick to dry up.
This knocking-over-the-water-bow behaviour can be a little distressing as well from the perspective of the hydration of your cat.
If a cat happens to topple his or her only water bowl over in the morning and a pet parent is at work most of the day, that cat no longer has access to much if any drinkable water for quite a few hours.
If the weather takes a turn for the hotter with no air conditioning on inside, the cat has diarrhea or throws up, or for any other reason needs to access water more than necessary, this lack of ability to re-hydrate can be a real issue.
To prevent your cat from being unable to re-hydrate because he or she tends to tip over his or her water bowl quite often, you may want to try grabbing a no spill water bowl your cat will have difficulty toppling over.
There are a lot of varieties, from heavy, weighted bowls to bowls that integrate into non-slip and non-skid silicone mats, including the .
As an alternative, in case youre just worried about hydration and not the potential for extra messes and clean up, you can also leave a tap in the bathroom running if you allow your cat to drink from the sink.
Make Sure Your Cat Isnt Eating Items
In rare cases, cats will not only decide to collect things from around the house, but they also decide to eat them. This is a condition called pica and it can be very dangerous for cats. Most household items simply arent meant to be eaten by anyone, especially your cat. These items will get stuck in your cats GI tract and most likely have to be surgically removed. However, this condition is pretty rare and its worth being aware of so you know what to look for. You can learn more about pica in cats in this article.
Our Question This Week Was:
Dear Dr John, I have a 6-year-old cat that last year started to push his water bowl all over the kitchen floor making a mess of the water all over. Is this a quirk he has developed in his personality or is he trying to tell me something? I have changed his dish he shares with 2 other cats to see if he does not like the dish-but no matter which dish I put down he still pushes it all over the kitchen? I would love any insight and/or solution.
Lorrie Bethlehem, Pa
Why Is My Cat Not Drinking
Cats can become resistant to drinking water, especially from a bowl. This is a holdover from feline evolution. As cats are descended from desert-dwelling animals, they rarely feel the need to hydrate.
This means that you may need to encourage your cat to drink. An average ten-pound cat needs to drink around 8 ounces of water each day. Any less than this leaves you cat at risk of health issues. In hot conditions, cats need more water to stay hydrated.
There are many reasons possible explanations for a cat resisting water, beyond simple genetics. Potential reasons include:
- Whisker fatigue. the cats whiskers rub against the water vessel, causing friction and discomfort
- Unappealing scents. The water is too close to food or litter or smells strongly of chlorine
- Noise and footfall. The cats water bowl is located in a busy area
- Innate distrust of still water. Wild cats drink from moving water sources. Still water in a bowl could be approach with caution
- Inappropriate volume. Cats are fussy. Too much or too little water in a bowl will deter from the drinking
A cat being fussy about water can be frustrating. The stubbornness of a feline can be admirable, but also dangerous. If your cat continually refuses to drink, it may end up dehydrated.
Because Its Fun & Entertaining
Some cats are just obsessed with playing with water. Others are highly playful and water may just be the most entertaining thing they have around.
Three ways you can test to see if this is the reason behind your cats behaviour and provide more preferable outlets for the fun so your cats still very entertained, but without as much of a watery mess:
What Kind Of Things Do Cats Put In Their Water Bowls
During my time working in one of the largest shelters in the US, it was very common to see cats put their ping pong balls, towels, or other food bowls into their water bowls! After hundreds of cats, it became very clear that was a very common cat behavior even if I never saw the behavior in my own cat, Debbie.
So what else do cats put in their water bowls?
After scouring the internet for every cat-related forum I could find and asking my cat-owning friends, toys are the clear winner. But specifically small mouse toys with fabric or fur. Other people frequently finding twisty ties, small pieces of crinkly paper and even small bits of food.
However, the most commonly selected item for water warehousing was the cat toy!
Change The Water Location Or Bowl
Your next step is to assess whether your cats water bowl is in the right location. If so, the bowl itself may be the problem.
Location of Water Bowl
Cats are fussy about whether their water bowl is located. It must be on the other side of the room from food or litter trays. If water is too close to food or waste, the smell contaminates the water. The cat will not go near it.
Place water is a unique corner of a room. This should also be a quiet area, with limited footfall and noise. Cats feel vulnerable while drinking. If you are wandering around, the cat will be dubious about stopping to drink.
Equally, a water bowl beside a window or TV may lead to distracting noises. Cats do not need any further reasons to avoid drinking. Ensure the water source are in a peaceful zone.
Design of Water Bowl
The bowl itself may also be a problem. If your cats water bowl is too narrow, whiskers will rub against the sides. This leads to a condition called whisker fatigue. Feline whiskers are in constant use, and thus sensitive. The cat will avoid anything that inflicts pain.
The cat may also dislike the material the bowl is made from. Make sure your cat is not allergic to plastic, for example. Even if not, plastic can make water a displeasing temperature for cats. Most felines prefer to drink from cooling porcelain.
Part Ii: Reasons Why Cats Spill & Splash Water Out Of Their Bowls
Pretty much the entire lot of these explanations briefly described in at least one of the types of ways cats often spill and splash water out of their bowls.
But there are so many overlaps that I thought Id mention them altogether here, as well as solutions in case youre troubleshooting because youd rather not have so much mess.
When Is It A Problem
If the covering, pushing, or scraping results in your pet not eating much of the mealand especially if this behavior starts out of the blueillness could be at the root of the problem. “I’ve found that when a pet refuses to eat because they’re nauseous, stressed, or otherwise sick, they may attempt to cover or hide food just to get it away from themselves as soon as possible,” says Harvilicz. The smell of the food might be putting them off, or they’re just aiming to neutralize it, so as not to make themselves vulnerable to a potential predator .
If you notice these actions with a meal that your pet normally devours, it’s smart to pay a visit to your veterinarian to determine if a gastrointestinal or other medical condition might have prompted the change. On the other hand, if it’s happening with a new food that you’ve added into the mix, then it might be as simple as preference: Fluffy is just not a fan of whatever it is you’re serving him. And you may be the source of his pickiness, adds Garey. “Owners who feed their pets table scraps and share their own food as a ‘treat’ can often lead to a pet turning up its nose at its own less interesting meal!”If you’re overfeeding Sparkyeven if just by leaving food out and available in between mealtimesit’s also possible that when his regularly scheduled feeding rolls around, hes just not that hungry. And the pushing, shoving, or hiding could be his way of communicating that.
Getting Food Away From Water Is Important To Some Cats
In the wild, cats don’t like to eat near their water source. If it ends up there, they’ll often drag the food to another spot. That’s because evolution has taught them that their prey can contaminate their water. So, if you have the food and water bowls next to each other, some cats will drag the food to another spot to get it away from the water.
Move the food and water bowls to opposite sides of the room to see if this is the reason your cat engages in the behavior.
Why Cats Spill Water From Their Bowl
When trying to prevent your cat from spilling the water in its water bowl, one of the biggest problems is the fact that cats tend to spill water for a whole host of different reasons. Nevertheless, in my experience, it is actually relatively easy to identify the reason your cat is spilling water. Furthermore, once you are able to pinpoint the reason, it becomes much easier to choose an effective solution to the problem.
Arguably the most common reason why cats spill water is that they have difficulty accessing it. In general, cats do not like narrow, deep bowls. Some experts have suggested this is because a catâs whiskers â which are extremely sensitive â are more likely to come into contact with the side of the bowl, causing irritation. When this occurs, cats sometimes try to splash the water or even tip the bowl entirely, so they can drink in comfort.
However, a more frustrating problem is that some cats simply see water as being fun. They enjoy the sensation of splashing water or moving it in other ways, and they see it as a game. Some behavioural experts have speculated that this is because cats are naturally more attracted to running or moving water, so they try to create the movement themselves. However, it can also occur because your cat is bored, or feeling mischievous.
Dont Feed Your Cat Alongside Other Cats And Dogs
You may unintentionally be depriving your cat of being his true self by plopping down a bowl filled with kibble in the morning and at night. Lining up a row of bowls for your three or more cats may be causing more harm than realized. Same goes for feeding your cat with your dogs.
Although your cat may coexist beautifully in your home with your other cats and your dogs, eating for a cat is a vulnerable time, said Elizabeth Bales, VMD, a veterinarian at the Red Lion Veterinary Hospital in New Castle, Delaware. Keep in mind that cats are solitary hunters and predators. They want to hunt and eat alone. They are also prey and do their best to hide any signs of stress or weakness.
Veterinarians are seeing the impact environmental stress plays on a cats health. A stressed cat is at risk for obesity, scarf and barf incidents, skin diseases and urinary tract infections.
Apply Water Through A Syringe
If your cat continues to be stubborn, you may need to apply water from a syringe. This should be a last resort. Only attempt this if your cat is dehydrated and other approaches have been exhausted.
If you need to use a syringe to get your cat hydrated, pick up a cat-friendly tool. Do not use a human-centric syringe. Purchase an appropriate model from a vet or pet store. This should be plastic, not glass, in case the cat bites the syringe. When ready to offer water, follow these steps:
Do not leap straight to force-feeding your cat water. Try running a tap first. Its no ideal for a cat to drink this way, but its better than syringing water. All the same, hydrating your cat this way is preferable to requiring intravenous fluids.
Dehydration in cats can be easily resolved if caught early. It is better avoided altogether, though. Follow these tips to ensure that your cat drinks regularly. This will keep your cat in good health, going some way to staving off health concerns.
Feeding Cats Without Cat Food Bowls Taps Into Their Instincts
This concern has led her to create the NoBowl Feeding System, oval-shaped plastic molds designed to mimic the body of prey. It allows you to pour measured kibble into two openings. These molds are fitted in outer cloth wraps to stimulate the tactile feel of prey for a cat to grab, claw and use his teeth on.
This is not my science. This is my solution, said Dr. Bales, who relied on a highly successful Kickstarter campaign to create and launch her product late last year.
Start by placing these kibble-filled faux mice on a floor in a closed room. Once your cat discovers how to swat or bite to get the kibble, gradually increase the challenge by hiding these easy-to-clean NoBowls for him to find. Dr. Bales cat, Carlos, can now find the faux mouse inside a hidden shoebox with a lid.
This piece was originally published in 2017.
Cats Just Want To Have Fun
Some cats might bat at their water or pull food out of their bowl because it’s fun. Cats might not generally like to be submerged in water, but they often do like to play with it on their terms. This might be a more significant reason in kittens than older cats.
If you think your kitty might be playing in the water for fun, try increasing your interactive play time with her.
If your cat makes a mess around the food and water bowls, consider getting new litter mats to set the dishes on. They are easy to clean and can catch much of the mess.
Why Do Pets Push Their Food Bowls Around
A veterinary clinician explains this quirky behavior in cats and dogs.
If you’ve noticed your cat or dog scraping their bowl across the floor, pawing at the areas around it, or attempting to hide food beneath it, a few deep-rooted instincts are likely at play. In the case of cats, it may be inherited from her wild feline ancestors. “Cats are predators that are also prey,” says Liz Stelow, DVM, a behavior clinician at the University of California Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. “Feral ones bury leftover food to avoid being tracked down by larger predators or even descended upon by scavengers.” Your domesticated kitty is just doing what comes naturally, even in the absence of any threat.
As for dogs, they’re innate hunters and scavengers, says Gina Garey, animal behaviorist and Maine State Director for Animal Wellness Action. Canines might cover up some leftover kibble as a safekeeping measure, attempting to shield it from the hungry paws of another nearby animal . Another common form of resource guarding in dogs is taking some food out of the bowl from the get-go and walking it over to another, more secluded part of the house to eat it, says Annie Harvilicz, veterinarian and founder of the Animal Wellness Foundation. “This is so that they can eat ‘in peace’ without threat to their food supply,” she explains.
Could Be Knocking Over Water Bowl Due To Wanting You To Refill The Bowl
I dont know how likely this explanation is, but some believe cats are clever enough to make the connection between the water bowl being knocked over and new water being provided, and as a result, that they may be hitting their bowls in order to get a refill of water on demand.
What do you think about this explanation?
Can You Stop This Behavior
This behavior of scratching or pawing the floor just before or after drinking water does not have any implications. Some cat owners find it incredibly cute.
So, it is often not necessary to stop this scratching habit. However, this behavior can get excessive, and cats can mess up the area where you keep the water or food bowl.
They can damage the carpet or bring clothes or papers to cover their water bowl. When this habit becomes excessive, one can use the following methods to control it. We have curated a list of all the things you can do to stop your cat from scratching the floor.
- Keep food or water bowl on a hard surface and away from any item, a cat can drag to cover it.
- Keep an eye on the cat when it is eating or drinking water. Put away the bowls when they finish with it. It will make sure that the cat doesnt do anything to hide or dispose of it.
- Distract the cat with a toy when it starts to paw near the bowl
- One needs to be careful with the cat regarding this behavior. If you continuously scold a cat, it can become aggressive, and it will be more difficult to control later on.
- One should avoid keeping food in the direct eyesight of the cat as it can exacerbate the situation.
It takes years for cat owners to understand why their cats are behaving the way they are. It is puzzling when they scratch, paw, or knead the surface near the food or water bowl just before drinking from it.
Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor Before Drinking Water
Cats possess all sorts of unusual behaviors, and it is bewildering to find an explanation of everything a cat does throughout the day.
One such occurrence that confuses nearly all the cat owners is scratching the floor just before or after drinking water.
Whenever a cat drinks water from a bowl, it paws, scratches, or kneads the area as if it is trying to bury something.
This unusual behavior is more common than it looks, and cat owners worldwide have reported this.
It is not indicative of any problem in ones cat. This tendency to knead before drinking means that the cat shows traits of their ancestor, and they feel at home. We are going to explain why cats show this behavior in this article.