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Cat Splashes Water Out of the Bowl: 5 Vet-Verified Reasons & How to Stop It

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 9, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

a cat dipping its paws on a bowl of water

Cat Splashes Water Out of the Bowl: 5 Vet-Verified Reasons & How to Stop It


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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While the behavior can be frustrating due to the mess, your cat splashing their water out of their water bowl and all over the floor is normal and usually no reason for concern. Despite having a reputation for being afraid of water, many cats are attracted to water and enjoy playing with it, even if they may have an aversion to being immersed in it.

Of course, this act can be highly frustrating, as you may not enjoy spending your day mopping and filling their water bowl repeatedly! It is especially common in kittens, who tend to swat at everything in their vicinity with their paws. Several cat breeds are naturally more tolerant of water and even enjoy it, and splashing water is their way of tapping into their instincts.

In any case, the constant mess can be tiring, and while there is usually no reason to worry about the behavior, it is certainly something that you’ll want to stop from happening. In this article, we’ll look at some reasons for this behavior and how to get your cat to stop splashing the water bowl.

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Top 5 Reasons Why Your Cat Splashes Water Out of Bowl

1. Access

The simplest and most common reason your cat splashes water out of their bowl is to access more water. This may be due to their whiskers, which come into contact with the sides of a narrow bowl and cause discomfort.

A great way to stop your cat from spilling the water bowl is to get something wider, this makes it easier and more comfortable for them to drink. Some cats tip over a narrow bowl to get easier access to the water.

You may consider buying them a wider bowl or even a spill-proof bowl or dispenser that will give your cat the hydration they need without them being able to spill or knock the water bowl over.

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Cats are known for their playful antics; one of the most common being pawing their water dish! The Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl was thoughtfully designed with these adorable yet messy cat behaviors in mind. Not only is the bowl spill-resistant, it features a wide wrap-around tray explicitly crafted to catch any splashes or spills. The two stainless steel dishes fit securely within the PP plastic base, keeping your kitty’s water in the bowl and off your floor! If you are always combating spills or dribbles caused by drinking, the Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is the perfect option for you.

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

2. Play

It may seem overly simplistic and obvious, but the reason your cat keeps splashing their water bowl is they see it as a toy to be played with. It is especially common in kittens, which do not usually have an aversion to water. Stainless steel bowls are often seen as toys due to their reflective surfaces and how the water casts light when they move and splash it. Even the scraping sound of the bowl across the floor may cause endless excitement for younger cats.

Again, a grippy, non-slip ceramic bowl may be the best option since it will not produce exciting reflective patterns. A specially made spill-proof bowl or water dispenser will also do the trick.

bengal cat with a bowl of water
Image Credit: kalyanby, Shutterstock

3. Boredom

Understimulated and bored cats tend to do strange things at times, which can include knocking over their water bowls. They’ll see their water bowl as a toy to be played with, especially reflective bowls. If your cat doesn’t have many toys around, has grown tired of the toys they do have, is left alone for long periods without interaction, or does not have a friend to play with, they may be bored and are simply using their water bowl as a form of entertainment.

If possible, spend 30-40 minutes of interactive time daily with your cat playing stimulating games. Make sure they have access to several toys, and change the toys regularly because they can grow bored of the same ones fairly quickly.

Playing is an important part of keeping your cat mentally and physically engaged, and a great toy will make it much easier. We like Hepper's Catnip Stick Toys because they're sturdy enough to handle intense play and completely filled with organic catnip. You'll love the fun range of pastel colors and your cat will enjoy the prey-like shape!

Hepper Stick Catnip Cat Kicker Toy
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Hepper Stick Catnip Cat Kicker Toy
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At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

4. Health Issues

While this is rare, an underlying health issue may cause your cat’s water bowl to splash. Diabetes and kidney disease typically make cats more thirsty than usual, and their frantic desire for hydration may cause them to spill water. You’ll likely notice them drinking water from other parts of your home, like leaky faucets or the bathtub, and there will be other signs, like lethargy or lack of appetite.

If you notice your cat drinking more than usual, take them for a checkup with your vet immediately.

tuxedo cat being checked by vet
Image Credit: didesign021, Shutterstock

5. Stress

Anxiety and stress can cause cats to behave in strange ways. Your cat may try and climb into their water bowl to escape a stressful situation, and separation anxiety may cause them to knock over their water bowls to get your attention.

There may have even been a particular moment that caused fear in your cat around their water bowl, and they are knocking it over out of frustration. Something inside their water bowl may have frightened them, like a spider or insect that they’ve attempted to fish out.

Assess the possible causes of your cat’s stress and anxiety, and see if they have any associated stress around their drinking area.

Those caring for anxious cats understand the struggles and discomfort that their companions feel on a daily basis. The innovative bowl shape of the Hepper Nest Bed provides nervous pets with support and its high sides offer a sense of security, diminishing stress and worry. To learn about how to the Hepper Nest can provide solace to your cat, click here.

Hepper Cat Nest - Washable Cat Bed with Removable...
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Hepper Cat Nest - Washable Cat Bed with Removable...
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At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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Final Thoughts

When you see your cat spilling water on purpose, there is usually no reason to worry, and the problem is typically easy to fix. A spill-proof bowl or water dispenser will solve the issue, but you may need to train your cat to use it. On rare occasions, the behavior may be a sign of something more serious, but most of the time, you just have a playful, mischievous cat on your hands!

See also:

Featured Image Credit: yykkaa, Shutterstock

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