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Why Does My Cat Knock Over the Water Bowl? 5 Reasons & What to Do

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

You’ve heard that cats don’t like water, so you might wonder why your cat likes to dip their paws in their water or dump over their water bowl continually. Some cats are actually curious about the water, especially as kittens. Others might be reacting out of sheer boredom or trying a new maneuver to grab your attention. Your cat’s personality and environment can give you some clues about why they’ve adopted this new (annoying) behavior, as well as how to stop it from happening.

Click below to jump ahead:

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The 5 Reasons Why Cats Like to Dump Their Water Bowls

1. Boredom

Your cat might be trying to add a little excitement to their life. Your reaction to the spilled water is definitely more entertaining than sitting around doing nothing all day.

cat_pasja1000, Pixabay
Image Credit: pasja1000, Pixabay

2. Life Stage

Kittens are more likely to play with water than adult cats. They’re still learning about their environment, and part of that includes engaging with everything around them. Not all cats outgrow playing with water, especially more water-tolerant breeds such as Maine Coons. However, it really depends on the individual cat.

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 Excited Cats, 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!

3. Need for Attention

Your cat will be the first to notice if life has kept you too busy to play with them. They might know that dumping the water bowl is the only thing to drag you out of drafting that email for work.

blue tabby maine coon cat playing with water
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

4. The Water Bowl Is in Their Way

Notice where your cat likes to climb or sit. Maybe the water bowl is directly under a window where they like to perch. They might keep knocking it over accidentally or on purpose because they don’t want it there.

5. They Knock It Over While They’re Drinking.

Your cat might not actually be trying to be a menace. They could be accidentally tipping over their bowl when they go for a drink.

Cat drinking from a blue bowl
Image Credit: birgl, Pixabay

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When It’s a Cause For Concern

It’s important to note whether your cat is merely splashing around in the water, or if they’re drinking a ton. You should always take your cat to the vet if you notice them suddenly drinking more than usual. This can be a sign of dangerous health issues, such as diabetes, or problems with the liver or kidneys.

cat having an ultrasound in vet clinic
Image Credit: Libre, Shutterstock

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How to Stop Your Cat from Tipping Over Their Water Bowl in 5 Steps

Don’t cry over spilled water. Here are some ways to prevent your cat from constantly making a mess:

1. Move the Bowl

Notice your cat’s traffic patterns. If the bowl is in their way of travel, find a less busy spot in the house where it isn’t as likely to be disturbed. Remember, cats don’t like change, so you might have to carry them over to their new watering hole for the first few times they need a sip until they can remember the new location.

tabby cat sitting next to a bowl of water
Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

2. Find a Water Bowl with a Rubberized Bottom

If your cat is dumping the water on purpose, you can buy a water bowl with a rubberized bottom so the friction makes it harder to turn over.

3. Invest in a Pet Water Fountain

Probably one of the best ways to prevent your cat from dumping its water is to ditch the bowl altogether in favor of a pet water fountain. The water flows through a filter and continuously comes out of the fountain. From there, it fills up the basin and runs through the filter again. Cats are often attracted to running water, which encourages them to drink more. The water stays fresher since it runs through a filter, and since a fountain is heavier than a bowl, it’s much harder for your cat to tip over.

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.

Hepper stainless steel water fountain

We recommend Hepper's Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain, an easy-to-clean model with three different flow modes, a large capacity, and effective triple filtration. This minimalist fountain runs quietly and will fit right into your home.

At Excited Cats, 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. Give Them More Attention

It’s quite possible that your cat has adopted this charming trick to capture your attention. Take time to give them positive attention so they don’t try to turn to negative habits to get what they want.

5. Find Enrichment Toys

Scratching posts, cat trees, catnip toys, and homemade enrichment toys can liven up your pet’s regimen. Giving them something to do keeps them from the dangerous destruction that can come from being idle for too long.

cat playing toy on the floor
Image Credit: Lukasz Pawel Szczepanski, Shutterstock

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While it might be annoying to keep mopping up your cat’s mess, they probably won’t knock over their water forever. Most times it’s a phase, whether they’re a curious kitten or a bored adult cat who needs a little extra love. If you notice your cat drinking water excessively, you should take them to the vet to rule out any serious illness such as diabetes. If the problem appears to be a behavior issue, then thankfully there are ways to prevent the bowl from tipping over. Always make sure they’re receiving enough love and stimulation so they don’t become bored or feel neglected. All of these tips should help the water stay in the bowl instead of all over your floor.

Featured Image Credit: kalyanby, Shutterstock

About the Author

Brooke Bundy
Brooke Bundy
Brooke Bundy is a freelance writer who lives with three cats and a dog. She has a B.S. in Media Studies from the University of North Georgia. Booke loves storytelling and spending time with her pets at their house in New Orleans, Louisiana. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, cooking, and brewing coffee.

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