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Why is my cat dumping her water bowl?

If your cat keeps dumping its water bowl you may be getting annoyed and wondering why this keeps happening…

Why is my cat dumping her water bowl?

Most commonly, when your cat is splashing their water bowl, then it is a sign of anxiety. Anxiety can cause fairly odd behavior in cats, and this can include splashing, moving, or even completely overturning their water bowl in some cases.

So, now you know. But, could this be related to separation anxiety? How can I prevent it? And, is a water fountain a better option to stop this? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Could this water bowl dumping be related to separation anxiety?

Orange cat next to water bowl.

Orange cat next to water bowl.

If you have been leaving home more often of late, this could be related to separation anxiety, and behaviors such as this will often occur in conjunction with ‘potty’ incidents or other forms of acting out.

How do I prevent my cat from dumping its water bowl?

In most cases, getting a heavier bowl is the only option to keep your cat from acting out in this manner, however, this is no guarantee that they will not act out in other ways.

You’ll want to make sure that the new bowl is not very deep or narrow, as your cat might still manage to turn this over, and you might consider specialized non-tip dispensers to help minimize this form of acting out.

Be sure that you are keeping this bowl very clean as well, as cats may also spill the contents of water bowls if they feel that the bowl is not properly clean. Finally, a cat fountain is another option that you might try, however, this still does not come with a 100% guarantee that your cat may not dump this out anyway.

If changing the bowl is not helping, it may be best to check for recommendations from your vet which may help with separation anxiety.

Is a cat water fountain better than a bowl?

A water fountain is harder to dump over, as it is going to be much heavier and harder for your cat to move, but as far as a ‘better’ option, that is going to depend on your cat.

 A lot of cats do like the consistent cycling of the water, so cats do tend to prefer the running water option that you get with a fountain, but ultimately this may vary from cat to cat.  

Why does my cat spill his water before drinking?

Cats don’t always splash water as a means of acting out. One reason that cats will do this is so that they can check the water level in the bowl. If your cat has a fairly large bowl and you notice them ‘pawing’ at it on occasion, then this is most likely the case.

Watch to see if it looks like your cat is trying to completely knock it over or if they rather seem to be only splashing out a small amount. In the latter case, your cat is simply using the ripples to see what level the water is currently at and you might be able to avoid this by simply getting a smaller or less-shiny bowl.

Keep in mind, however, that there’s one other option… your cat might simply be playing with the shiny water!

Can cat water bowls with small openings prevent spillage?

There are specialized bowls if your cat seems to splash absolutely everything. They are designed with a tiny access point in the center which is recessed so that water may be accessed, but not at any depth. While they are a little more difficult to clean, they definitely keep your cat from spilling the water.

If your cat insists on always playing with their water, this can certainly discourage them, but keep in mind that some additional toys may well accomplish the same thing if your cat is simply looking for entertainment.  

Is it a good idea to place a tray under my cat’s water bowl?

Placing a tray underneath the bowl is a very simple solution to implement that allows your cat to splash, while still keeping it easy to clean. Look for the large, plastic containers designed for storing veggie trays and snacks and place one underneath the bowl.

Most cats have a fairly small ‘splash radius’ when they are playing with the water, and the plastic should allow for them to do this without the water going on to your floor. If your cat really likes to make a mess, you can get a larger container at the hardware store, but typically the shallow grocery variety will work a treat for minimizing kitty splashes.

Could your cat’s water bowl be catching its whiskers?

This is certainly possible. As we all know, cats are peculiar creatures, and your cat might be irritated when they end up wetting their whiskers with their water bowl. The only way to determine this with 100% certainly is going to be changing out the bowl, however, and if you try this with no success then you’ll want to pay close attention to their body language.

Try to see if the behavior falls more on the side of playing or irritation. If it’s more like the latter, then you could be looking at separation anxiety or another stress factor that is driving your cat to act out. If you think that this is the case, check with your vet.

This will help you to rule out illness or an injury that you can’t see and your vet can help you with further steps if this is not the case.

Do cats prefer moving or still water?

A cat staring at some flowing water.

A cat staring at some flowing water.

Cats love things that move quickly, it’s just part of their predatorial nature, and water is certainly no exception. Small, decorative desk fountains can make great water bowls for cats, just be sure to check with the vendor to ensure that toxic materials are not used in making the item.

Alternately, you can always go with a fountain specifically designed for your kitty and once they discover the running water then you are in for a treat. Expect a bit of batting and funny faces from your cat as they explore their new water source!   

Are stainless steel bowls more hygienic?

 Stainless steel is a great choice for bowls when it comes to cats. They are easy to clean, nice-looking, and quite hygienic. In exceedingly rare cases, your cat could have a sensitivity to nickel or chromium which is present in these bowls, but it is highly unlikely.

In most cases, a stainless-steel bowl should be considered a hardy, clean, and appropriate choice for your cat’s bowl. Aside from cleanliness and being dishwasher safe, they have a good weight to them and should last a lifetime if you take care of them.     

Why do kittens splash in water?

While splashing may be a sign of injury or illness, with kittens you likely just see simple curiosity and playfulness as work. Kittens play with absolutely everything and water happens to feel strange and look shiny when it’s splashed.

This should not be a sign of concern, unless you notice that they are spending an undue amount of time actively trying to overturn their bowl or drinking excessive amounts of water.

 If they keep trying to flip the bowl, just try a heavier one, but excess drinking of water is a definite red flag and should be considered a good reason for a quick vet checkup to see what is going on.

Most likely, though, your kitten is just having a little fun with the shiny water and your shoelaces are probably next in line for the day’s entertainment!

Lindsey Browlingdon