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Why Is My Cat So Obsessed with Water? 8 Common Reasons & Tips

You’d expect a cat to be obsessed with food…but water? Whether it’s drinking excessively, tipping the bowl over, splashing their paw around in it, or trying to get in the shower with you, some cats take a particular shine to the essence of life. This behavior can occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from simple mischief to an underlying health condition.

If you’re concerned about your cat’s preoccupation with water, read on to learn more about the possible reasons behind their fascination. We’ll also share some tips on preventing undesirable water bowl behaviors.

Click below to jump ahead:

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The 8 Reasons Why Cats Play With Their Water

1. The Water Bowl Needs Freshening Up

Cats are fastidious creatures and a water bowl with even a bit of fur or dust inside simply won’t do. If your cat is tipping over their water bowl or sitting beside it but not drinking, they may be signaling to you that the water isn’t fresh enough for their liking.

If your cat drinks from a water bowl instead of a water fountain, the water needs to be changed several times daily as it’s easier to get gunked up with fur, dust, food, and other little bits and bobs that reduce its freshness.

tabby cat sitting next to a bowl of water
Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock
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2. Your Cat Doesn’t Like Their Bowl

Not every bowl is suitable for cats to drink from. Cats have sensitive whiskers which might rub up against the sides of a too-small or oddly-shaped bowl, so it’s recommended to get something wide and shallow enough for them to comfortably drink from.

If you spot your cat splashing their paws into the water regularly and licking it off their paws, the bowl size might be the cause.

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3. Cats Love Running Water

Cats are biologically wired to seek out fresh, flowing water sources as they would in nature. As Nicky Trevorrow, Cat’s Protection Behavior Manager explains on the subject of cats drinking from dripping taps: “This makes sense from an African wildcat perspective, where they would naturally drink from fresh running streams rather than a stagnant pool.”

So, if you catch your cat trying to hop in the shower or licking at a dripping tap, this is the most likely explanation.

cat drinks water
Image Credit: AltamashUrooj, Shutterstock
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4. Your Cat Has an Underlying Health Condition

If your cat is drinking water excessively, an underlying health condition might be behind the behavior. You may spot your cat’s water bowl emptying faster than usual, your cat drinking from taps, vomiting from drinking large amounts of water, and/or urinating more frequently. Potential health issues that may cause a cat to drink more include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
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5. Your Cat Wants Your Attention

If your cat frequently tips over their water bowl or splashes the contents everywhere with their paws, they might be trying to get your attention. A cat that wants your attention may resort to destructive or annoying behaviors like knocking things off furniture or pawing at things to rattle them and make a noise.

If your cat learns that the clattering of the water bowl gets your attention, they might try this trick every time they feel bored. You can combat this by scheduling daily play sessions with your cat to release their pent-up energy.

Cat playing with human
Image Credit: Florian Höllmüller, Pixabay
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6. The Water Bowl Is a “Toy”

It’s not unusual to find cats dipping their paws in their water bowl. One of the reasons they might do this is that they’re being playful. If your cat is a kitten, they may be exploring this weird new clear stuff and gauging how much fun they can get out of it. Try distracting your cat with more appealing toys that they can chase or puzzle out.

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7. Your Cat Fancies a Swim

Believe it or not, there are cat breeds out there known for enjoying swimming and playing with water. These include the Maine Coon, Abyssinian, and Bengal. Before you send your Maine Coon, Abyssinian, or Bengal on a lap around your pool, bear in mind that not every cat of these breeds will love water—just that they may be more likely to swim than certain other breeds.

siamse cat taking a bath
Image Credit: Blik Sergey, Shutterstock
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8. It’s Too Hot

In the summer months, you might find your cat drinking more than usual to cool themselves down and stay hydrated. They may also seek out other sources of water like tap or shower water. Provide plenty of fresh water as usual and make sure your cat has cool spots to hang out in to avoid overheating.

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The 5 Top Tips for a Good Drinking Experience for Your Cat

Having a positive relationship with water is crucial to your cat’s health and well-being. Here are some tips for making sure your cat is getting the best possible drinking experience.

1. Consider a Water Fountain

Since it’s instinctive for cats to choose flowing water over still water, you might want to consider investing in a cat water fountain to replace their water bowl. This is an especially good idea if your cat is constantly pawing at the water or you’re having to replace the water in the bowl very regularly.

Not every cat water fountain will make your life easier. This is why we recommend the well-designed Hepper Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain, which has advanced triple filtration, three different flow modes, and an automatic shutoff feature.

Hepper stainless steel water fountain

This modern, minimalist fountain runs surprisingly quietly and is very easy to clean.

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!

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2. Choose the Right Bowl

Wide, shallow bowls with a flat base made of stainless steel tend to be the best option for cats as they’re easy to clean and the sides are wide enough to accommodate a cat’s sensitive whiskers.

young cat staring at the bowl
Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock
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3. Mentally Stimulate Your Cat

Sometimes, cats use their water bowl as a toy because they’re bored or want to get your attention. Distract them with some fun, mentally stimulating toys.

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4. Change Out the Water Regularly

If you’re using a bowl, you’ll need to do regular spot checks to check the freshness of the water. If you see dust, hairs, or other foreign particles, it’s time to change the water.

hepper nom nom cat food bowl water fill

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5. Give Your Cat Ice Cubes to Play With

In the summer months, you might want to provide ice cubes for your cat to play with. These offer a great way to keep their paws cool when it’s hot out while offering ample entertainment as they bat them around and slide them across the floor.



We hope that this post has helped you get to the bottom of your cat’s preoccupation with water. Luckily, playing with water or seeking out running water is not that unusual and is often instinctive. On the other hand, if your cat is drinking excessively, this isn’t normal. We recommend getting your cat checked out by a vet to find out what’s causing them to drink so much.

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Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock