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Cat Splashes Water Out of Bowl: 5 Reasons Why & How to Stop It

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

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 actually 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 over and over again! This is especially common in kittens, who tend to swat at everything in their vicinity with their paws. Several cat breeds are naturally more tolerable of water and even enjoy it, and splashing water is their way of tapping into their natural 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 look at five common reasons that your cat splashes water out of its bowl and what you can do to stop it.

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1. Access

The simplest and most common reason that your cat is splashing water out of their bowl is access. Luckily, this is also the easiest to stop! Most cats prefer shallow, wide bowls as opposed to narrower, deeper bowls. This may be due to their whiskers, which come into contact with the sides of a narrow bowl and cause discomfort, but it may just be easier and more comfortable for them to drink from a wider bowl. Some cats will tip over a narrow bowl in order 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 that they need without them being able to spill or knock the water bowl over.

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2. Play

cat staring at water
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

It may seem overly simplistic and obvious, but some cats are just highly playful and see their water bowl as a toy to be played with. This 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 the way that 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, as this will stop the exciting reflective patterns. A specially made spill-proof bowl or water dispenser will also do the trick.

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3. Boredom

Under-stimulated and bored cats tend to do strange things at times, and this can include knocking over their water bowls. They’ll see their water bowl as a toy to be played with, especially stainless-steel bowls that are reflective. If your cat doesn’t have many toys around, have grown tired of the toys they do have, are not interacted with enough, are left alone for long periods, or do 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, try and spend at least 30-40 minutes of interactive time per day with your cat playing stimulating games. Make sure they have access to several different toy types, and change these toys regularly because they can grow bored of the same toys fairly quickly.

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4. Stress

little kitten sitting by a bowl of milk
Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

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. There may be something inside their water bowl that has 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.

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5. Health issues

While this is rare, an underlying health issue may be the cause of your cat’s water bowl splashing. 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 from other parts of your home too, like leaky faucets or the bathtub, and there will be other symptoms, like lethargy or lack of appetite.

If you notice your cat drinking more than usual and any of these other symptoms, take them for a checkup with your vet immediately.

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Final thoughts

When your cat splashes water out of their drinking bowl, there is usually no reason to worry and the problem is typically easy to fix. A spill-proof bowl or water dispenser will definitely solve the issue, although you may need to train your cat to use it. On rare occasions, the behavior may be the symptom of something more serious, but most of the time, you’ve just got a playful, mischievous cat on your hands!