Why Does My Cat Paw at Her Water Bowl?

Your cat’s water bowl needs to be safe.

After all, your feline loves nothing more than quenching her thirst. However, if she pawes at her water bowl now and then, she’s probably just thirsty.

It’s nothing wrong with this; her paw simply needs to hydrate.

So, why does my cat paw at her water bowl?

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need animal-based protein to survive. Cats cannot produce their own vitamin C and must get it from their diet.

Since moisture is the first thing cat’s consume when they eat, and 70% of the cat’s body is made up of water, they need a lot of it! That’s why most cats drink at least 3 times the amount of water they need in food every day.

If a cat doesn’t have enough fresh water available she’ll paw at her bowl to attempt to get to it! Don’t worry though; pawing at her bowl isn’t a sign of a health problem and it isn’t going to happen all the time.

Why Does My Cat Paw at Her Water Bowl?

They’re Having a Good Time

Some cats like playing with water, and this often includes their water bowl.

If you have a kitten that likes to play with his water bowl, don’t be surprised if he paws at it now and then.

Kittens are quite lively, and they can occasionally be rambunctious when drinking from a water bowl.

Although kittens are generally the ones that paw at their bowls the most, all cats have a hard time resisting playing with water from time to time.

You might try acquiring more appealing toys for them to play with instead.

To Feel More Safe

If you have more than one cat at home, there’s a good chance that one of the cats has taken to pawing at the water bowl to get the attention of another cat.

Because felines may attack in seconds, some cats will only feel safe when another cat is next to them.

They instead chose to keep their heads low or bury their nose in the cat’s fur.

To avoid this, add several water bowls to your cat’s favorite lounging spots.

Stress And Anxiety

Anxious or stressed cats may paw at things out of nervousness.

Many felines suffer from separation anxiety, and they’ll often paw at windows or other closed doors in an attempt to open the window.

If she misses you or want your affection when you are away, this is a sign of separation anxiety.

Simply try to be more kind, patient, and spend more quality time with your cat while you’re home.

Health Concerns

If a cat spills water from the bowl, never assume that there are no health concerns.

Certain disorders, such as diabetes and arthritis can cause a cat to accidentally knock the water bowl over.

Because these circumstances make the cat feel unsteady, the felines may paw at things out of insecurity.

Aside from splashing the water, if a cat is thirsty and spills the water before drinking it, the cat may just want to get the attention of the other cat and not water the bowl at all.

The kitty may rush to the tap whenever it thinks the other cat is in the next room.

If you find that your pet is knocking over bowls frequently, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any health problems.

They Are Unable to See the Water Level

If you see your cat putting its paws into the bowl, believe that she is able to see the water level in the bowl.

Felines have excellent eyesight, and they can easily see the water in the bottom of the dish.

To make it easier to view, they begin putting their paws into the water dish, in order to catch a bubble.

To make things easy for your kitty, simply wiping off the surface of the water is enough for her to drink.

Running Water Is Preferable to Cats

Many cats have an aversion to standing water and prefer running water as it encourages them to drink more water.

When cats were not domesticated, they drank water from moving streams and animals like deer and birds for hydration.

Running water is seen as fresh and less likely to become stagnant and dirty, so it encourages cats to drink more.

Wild cats continue to do this because it is a survival mechanism, but domestic cats have adapted this behaviour to drinking from a bowl instead of the stream.

Whisker Discomfort

Your cat’s whiskers are an important part of his/her sensory perception system.

They are more deeply rooted than a cat’s fur and may grow out of skin tissue.

When the cat lowers her head for a drink, the whiskers can become trapped underneath the water as the water rises and falls.

To prevent this pain, a cat may scratch or paw at her bowl to try and free herself from this discomfort.

Make sure your cat’s water is always set at a height that is lower than the top most part of her head.

Why Do Cats Touch Water Before Drinking?

To avoid the water dish hitting their face, as cats have a very vulnerable area around their eyes which can be easily damaged.

Your cat should avoid touching the water to be cleaned before dipping its face into the water for drinking.

Many cats like to drink water at room temperature with frozen drinking water being also loved.

Choose a bowl that has plenty of area for whiskers rather than a narrow bowl which will cause discomfort as the whiskers get wet and trapped.

Some cats like to drink running water, this mimics the natural drinking habits of cats in the wild and will encourage them to drink more.

The cats loathe the cold water, or running water, as the water touches their sensitive whiskers, that are constantly growing, thus lessening the sensation.

When a cat is confused about the water temperature, she will try to touch it first. Then, she will automatically sniff it to know whether it is hot or cold.

By scooping the water with a paw, the cats are able to determine the temperature of the water before sipping it down.

How Can I Stop My Cat From Putting His Paws In Water?

Reduce the amount of water in the bowl, generally they are attracted to its volume of water only.

Investing in a weighted water bowl will help stop this behavior as it will keep the water level consistently below your cat’s mouth.

These are often made of stainless steel or glass and can have a spring mechanism that lowers the water if your cat tries to tip the bowl over to drink more.

They are also pretty durable and well-made, so they should last a very long time.

Make sure the dish you place in your home isn’t too deep either.

You might also try establishing a separate drinking station for your cat.

The best pet water fountains are the elevated ones as they allow cats to drink naturally, while also reducing tooth and gum one issue since the water is flowing and they can’t paw.

Dust, hair, food particles, and other debris can clog the drinking spout on your pet’s fountain and block the water flow altogether.

Also Read: Why Do Cats Put Food in Their Water Bowl?


This occurs often because cats cannot distinguish the temperature of the water by its color like humans do.

They may also have whisker tiredness, become distracted or bored with their food or the water bowl, or they may be trying to get your attention as they see you looking in their direction.

Maybe they just like shaking the water off their bodies to cool down or if they’re playing they may just want to splash around in the stuff.

So, the next time you see your cat pawing at her water bowl, don’t worry too much as it may be just a sign of some fun and mischief.