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Why Does My Cat Move Their Water Bowl? 4 Vet Approved Reasons

bengal cat playing water in the bowl
Image Credit: kalyanby, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Patricia Dickson

Vet approved

	Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM

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

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Cats are curious creatures. They are entertaining but can certainly be a challenge at times. Cats can also leave you scratching your head at some of their peculiar habits.

One of those habits is moving their water bowl before they take a drink. Not every cat pushes the water bowl across the floor before they drink from it, but many do. While this is a relatively normal occurrence in cats, there are cases where it’s because the cat is anxious or stressed. You want to ensure this isn’t the case with your feline friend.

We’ll discuss a few reasons why your cat moves the water bowl before it drinks and more in the list below.

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The 4 Likely Reasons Your Cat Moves Their Water Bowl

1. The Cat Is Playing with the Water

Cat drinking from ceramic bowl
Image Credit: Pattysan, Shutterstock

Cats are playful animals, and it’s possible that the cat just enjoys playing with the water. If you’ve ever owned a cat, you already know they’ll take anything and make it into a toy. So, your cat might be moving the water bowl because it’s fun.

Cats are fascinated by water, as evidenced by their fascination with the water coming out of the faucet and pawing at your bath water when you run a tub.

Moving the water bowl might be your cat’s way of enjoying the water and its fascination with it. Although it’s clear that the water in the bowl is for your cat to drink, the cat might not see that as clearly as you do.

2. The Cat Doesn’t Like Where the Water Bowl Is

It’s also possible that your cat doesn’t like where its water bowl is located. Moving the water bowl might be the cat’s way of telling you that the current location is unacceptable. While not all cats care where they drink their water, many don’t like it to be beside their food bowl. This goes back to their ancestors that moved their prey away from any bodies of water to prevent it from contaminating their water source. Try moving your cat’s bowl away from their food to see if it makes a difference.

3. The Cat May Be Trying to Make the Water Move

cat drinking water from fountain
Image Credit: Daria Kulkova, Shutterstock

Even though cats have been pets and domesticated for centuries, they still retain some of the traits they had when they lived in the wild. One of those survival traits was never to drink water that was standing still. Cats drink from streams, rivers, and other moving water in the wild.

Your cat pushing the bowl around could be because it’s trying to make the water move so that they feel more comfortable and natural drinking from it.

Cats can be very particular about many things, including the water they drink. The right water fountain can provide your cat with clean, fresh water.

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4. The Cat Could be Testing the Water Level

Most cats are particular about the level of the water in their bowl as well. Your cat may be splashing some of the water on the floor so they can drink from the shallow puddle instead of the deeper bowl.

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When Is It Time to Call the Vet?

While it’s normal for a cat to move their water bowl before they drink, if the moving is becoming excessive, it might be time to make an appointment with your vet.

Your cat may be moving the bowl because they are stressed or anxious. If moving the water dish is a new development accompanied by other signs of stress, such as urinating outside the litter box, an upset stomach, or excessive grooming, you might have a problem.

It’s also essential that your cat drinks enough water to stay hydrated, and it’s best to monitor your pet while playing with the water dish to ensure they are drinking enough. One way to ensure they drink enough is by purchasing a cat water fountain.

If you feel that your cat’s behavior is unnatural, it’s best to contact your vet for an appointment. We all want what’s best for our furry friends, and while it might seem silly to contact the vet over a moving water bowl, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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As previously stated, not all cats play with their water bowls, but for those that do, there’s usually a logical reason for their behavior. However, if you notice any of the signs above in your cat, combined with moving the water bowl, it’s best to contact your vet to see if there’s an underlying cause for your feline friend’s behavior.

Featured Image Credit: kalyanby, Shutterstock

About the Author

Patricia Dickson
Patricia Dickson
Patricia is a pet writer and lifelong animal lover. She has two cats (Binx and Link) and one dog (Mystery). Binx was found as a kitten under her house and has been part of the family ever since! Patricia is also a published author under the pen name Skylar McKinzie. When she isn’t writing, Patricia enjoys volunteering at her local animal rescue.

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