Why Do Cats Paw At Water?

Have you ever found yourself mesmerized as your feline friend dips its paw into a water bowl before drinking?

Or maybe you’ve witnessed a cat playing with water, swatting at it like it’s a toy. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure: cats have an inexplicable fascination with water.

So why do they paw at it? Well, there are actually several reasons.

Why Do Cats Paw At Water-2

For starters, cats have incredibly sensitive whiskers that help them navigate in the dark. When they dip their paw in water, they create ripples that they can use to judge the depth and location of the water.

It’s almost like they’re using their paws as sonar. But that’s not all.

Pawing at water can also aerate it, making it taste fresher and more appealing to cats. In fact, many cats prefer to drink from moving water sources like streams because they are less likely to be contaminated than stagnant ones.

Of course, there’s also the entertainment factor. As natural predators, cats enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and playing with water can stimulate their instincts in a fun way.

Some cats even go so far as to fish for toys placed in the water. All in all, pawing at water is just one of the many quirky and fascinating behaviors that make our feline friends such beloved companions.

What is Pawing at Water?

Firstly, pawing at water is a way for cats to test the depth and temperature of the water. As natural hunters, cats need to know the depth of the water before they can catch their prey. By pawing at the water, they create ripples that help them determine its depth and temperature. It’s almost like they are scoping out their hunting ground.

Secondly, cats prefer drinking running water over still water because it is fresher and more likely to be free of contaminants. By pawing at the water, they create movement that mimics the flow of a stream, making it more appealing for them to drink. This is why many pet owners invest in pet fountains or leave a tap running for their furry friends.

Lastly, cats may also paw at water as a form of play or stimulation. The movement of water can be fascinating for cats, and pawing at it can provide them with entertainment and mental stimulation. It’s almost like they are playing a game of tag with the water droplets.

It’s important to note that excessive pawing at water may also indicate a health issue. If your cat is persistently pawing at their water bowl or other sources of water, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition such as dental problems or kidney disease.

In such cases, it is best to consult with your veterinarian. In conclusion, understanding why cats engage in this behavior can provide insight into their instincts and needs.

Why Do Cats Paw at Water?

Cats are known for their playful nature and natural curiosity, which explains why they often paw at water.

They might be trying to catch imaginary prey or satisfy their inquisitive minds by exploring their environment. And when they see water, they can’t resist the temptation to investigate it by pawing at it.

But did you know that there are also practical reasons why cats paw at water? For instance, they might be testing the depth of the water before drinking from it.

Or they might be creating ripples and waves to make the water more appealing to drink. After all, who doesn’t love the taste of fresh and flowing water?

Another reason why cats paw at water is related to their hunting instincts. In the wild, cats often hunt animals near or in bodies of water, and by pawing at the water, they can simulate the movement of prey and hone their hunting skills.

So next time you catch your kitty playing with their water, remember that they’re just practicing their survival instincts. And if you own a Bengal or Savannah breed, don’t be surprised if they take their love for water to the next level.

These breeds are known for their affinity for all things watery and might even enjoy taking a dip in the pool. Regardless of why your cat is pawing at their water, it’s crucial to encourage this behavior by providing them with a shallow dish of water or even a small fountain to play with.

Not only will it provide them with entertainment and mental stimulation, but it may also help them drink more water – a vital component of their overall health.

Testing the Depth

Firstly, cats paw at water to test its depth.

In the wild, cats need to be cautious when approaching bodies of water as predators could be lurking in the depths. By creating ripples with their paws, cats can determine the depth before taking a drink. This behavior is also seen in domestic cats who have access to a bowl of water or a sink.

Another fascinating reason why cats paw at water is that it stimulates their hunting instincts.

In the wild, cats hunt small fish and other aquatic animals that live in bodies of water. By mimicking the movements of these prey animals, cats get their hunting instincts going.

While not all cats paw at water, it’s important to note that this behavior shouldn’t be discouraged. As long as your cat is staying hydrated, there’s no need to worry about their drinking habits.

Some cats prefer to drink from still bowls of water while others enjoy playing with the water by dipping their paws in it. If you want to encourage your cat’s natural instincts and provide them with a fun activity, try giving them a shallow dish of water or a small fountain to play with.

This will not only keep them hydrated but also give them an opportunity to practice their survival skills. In conclusion, cats are fascinating creatures who love to explore new things, including bodies of water.


Cats paw at water to test its depth and ensure it’s safe to drink. By tapping their paw on the surface of the water, they create ripples that help them judge the water’s depth.

This behavior also helps cats overcome their aversion to still water, which they perceive as stagnant and potentially contaminated.

By creating movement in the water, cats can simulate running water, which is more appealing to them and may encourage them to drink more frequently. However, some cats may take this behavior to the extreme and splash water all over the place, creating a mess.

This could be due to boredom, playfulness, or simply a way of seeking attention. To prevent this, it’s essential to provide your cat with a clean and stable source of water, such as a shallow dish or a fountain.

Play and Stimulation

They relish exploring their surroundings and interacting with their environment.

One of the ways in which cats engage in play is by pawing at water. This behavior not only entertains onlookers but also serves as a form of stimulation for cats.

Pawing at water can be a fun game for cats while allowing them to use their natural hunting instincts. In the wild, cats paw at water to catch fish or other small prey.

Though domestic cats may not have to hunt for their food, they still have a primal urge to engage in this behavior. Pawing at water allows cats to satisfy their instinctual needs and experience the thrill of the chase.

Apart from being an excellent source of entertainment, pawing at water is also a form of exercise for cats. This activity allows them to stretch and move their muscles, especially those in their paws and legs.

It can also be an effective way for cats to burn off excess energy, which can help prevent destructive behavior. So if your cat seems restless or hyperactive, try giving them a bowl of water to play with.

Moreover, pawing at water provides mental stimulation for cats who are intelligent animals that need mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. By requiring cats to use their problem-solving skills and coordination, pawing at water can be an effective way to keep them mentally sharp.

In summary, pawing at water may seem like a quirky behavior, but it is an essential part of a cat’s play and stimulation routine. This activity allows cats to have fun, exercise, and stay mentally stimulated.

Excessive Pawing May Indicate Health Problems

Indeed, research indicates that kidney disease is one of the most common culprits.

These essential organs regulate the water balance in a cat’s body, and if they’re not functioning correctly, dehydration can occur, leading to excessive pawing. Diabetes is another health issue that may prompt your cat to paw at their water bowl more frequently than usual.

This condition can cause cats to drink more water than normal, leading to increased pawing behavior. Additionally, hyperthyroidism can also cause excessive pawing due to increased thirst and dehydration.

It’s worth noting that not all pawing behavior is a sign of a severe health problem. Sometimes cats paw at water because they’re trying to gauge its depth or temperature.

Other times, they may be bored or looking for a way to play. That said, if you notice your cat excessively pawing their water bowl, it’s crucial to take them to the vet for a checkup.

Your veterinarian will determine whether there’s an underlying health problem causing this behavior and provide the necessary treatment. In conclusion, while pawing at water is considered normal behavior for cats, excessive pawing may indicate an underlying health problem that requires medical attention.

Why Do Cats Paw At Water-3

Understanding Your Cat’s Instincts and Needs

It’s a curious behavior that can leave you wondering what’s going on in their little minds.

But fear not, understanding your cat’s instincts and needs will help you make sense of this behavior and ensure they are happy and healthy. Cats are fascinating creatures with unique instincts and behaviors.

Their natural hunting instincts tell them to paw at water and lure fish closer to the surface. Domesticated cats may exhibit this behavior as a form of play or an attempt to catch their reflection in the water.

So, if you see your cat splashing around in their bowl or sink, don’t worry; it’s just their inner hunter-gatherer coming out to play. Another reason why cats paw at water is related to their grooming habits.

Cats are known for their cleanliness, and they use their tongues and saliva to groom themselves regularly. However, some cats may prefer to wet their paws first before grooming, particularly if they have long hair that requires more attention.

So, if your furry friend starts dipping their paw into the water bowl before grooming themselves, it’s just their way of getting ready for a good cleaning session. Interestingly, some cats simply enjoy playing with water.

Breeds like the Bengal or Turkish Van have a natural affinity for water and can often be found playing in shallow pools or splashing about in the bathtub. If your cat belongs to one of these breeds, giving them a shallow bowl of water or a small fountain to play with can keep them entertained without causing too much mess.

However, excessive pawing or splashing could be a sign of an underlying issue such as boredom or stress.

Providing your cat with ample opportunities for play and mental stimulation can help alleviate these issues and minimize unwanted behaviors.

Tips to Discourage Excessive Pawing at Water

Not only does it make a mess, but it can also be a sign of underlying medical or behavioral issues. To help you discourage this behavior, we’ve compiled 5 tips to promote healthy hydration habits for your feline friend.

Ensure Adequate Water Supply

The first step in discouraging excessive pawing at water is to make sure your cat has access to enough water throughout the day. Cats can be finicky about their water, so provide multiple bowls of fresh water in different locations of the house. Adding ice cubes can also make it more refreshing.

Heavy Bowl

Cats love to play, but their playful nature can sometimes lead to excessive pawing at their water bowl. Using a heavy and stable bowl will prevent it from moving around too much and make it less likely for your cat to paw at it.

Change Bowl Location

Just like humans, cats can get bored with the same old routine. Changing the location of the water bowl or adding a new one in a different spot can stimulate your cat’s interest and reduce pawing behavior.

Consider a Water Fountain

Cats are attracted to running water because it is fresher and more appealing than still water. Investing in a cat-specific water fountain can help reduce excessive pawing behavior and encourage healthy hydration habits.

Praise Good Behavior

Positive reinforcement goes a long way in shaping good behavior in cats. Whenever your cat drinks from the bowl without pawing, praise them with a treat or verbal affirmation. Over time, they will associate drinking without pawing as a positive behavior.

It’s important to note that excessive pawing at water can also be a sign of underlying medical issues such as kidney disease or urinary tract infections. If your cat continues to exhibit this behavior despite these tips, consult with a veterinarian to rule out any health issues.

In addition to these tips, you can also offer your cat alternative sources of stimulation and play to redirect their energy and prevent excessive pawing. Interactive toys or food puzzles can keep your cat mentally stimulated and satisfied.


In conclusion, cats never cease to amaze us with their fascinating instincts and behaviors.

Their inexplicable fascination with water is just one of the many quirky and endearing traits that make them such beloved companions. When it comes to pawing at water, our feline friends have several reasons for doing so.

They may be testing the depth and temperature of the water or aerating it to make it taste fresher and more appealing. It could also be a way for them to stimulate their natural hunting instincts in a fun way.

However, excessive pawing may indicate an underlying health issue such as kidney disease or diabetes. As responsible cat owners, we must understand our furry friend’s behavior and needs when it comes to hydration.