Water issues


My kitten/cat (not yet a year) has water issues! She's always loved to watch us in the bathroom brush our hair and teeth, especially if she hears water running. She will come running. Then she started getting in the sink to see the water drain. Now she all of a sudden will dump out the water dish, water fountain and my husband's very large and heavy glass of water! She may tap her feet in it but she will wrap her leg and paw around the item and pull it over! I just bought new containers today and she's doing it to them too! If I'm cleaning up one, she's already in the next room doing it to the next...i even just bought a new fountain (the older one she was even taking apart and carrying the filter around) I also got a new container that will disperse the water as needed so in the hot weather I can put ice water in the reservoir. She in one hour has dumped that 4 times, the fountain three times and started on my husband's glass. Normally she just drank out if these items, but about 2 weeks ago she has decided to dump. I fear she and my other cat a year older will not get water to drink because of this behavior. I mean, if she emptied everything for a couple days she may realize she won't have anything to drink and hopefully stop...but my other cat won't get water either and the heat is coming. Actually the next 2 days are gonna be really hot then drop back to normal, but it can get over 100°.....how can I get this behavior to stop? I even put a little water in the bathtub to see if she just wanted to play, since she tries to play with it if I'm in it, but she wasn't interested. Only the containers. I've even wrapped heavy towels around so they didn't tip and she undoes them and knocks it over anyway....


1 answer

Hi there,

Sounds like your cat has a real obsession! Just know you’re not alone. A lot of cats like to play with water and this can be a real headache for their owners. There could be several reasons for this behaviour.

1. Your cat is playing with the water because she is bored/lacks stimulation.

Water can be a fun game: it splashes, it makes waves, it's reflective....what’s not to like? To get your cat’s attention off the water, you’ll need to give her other games that will be even more interesting! Purchase some cat toys and dedicate time every day to playing with your cat. On top of distracting her, it will also tire her out a little bit. Obviously, you can’t play with your cat 24/7, so I recommend also purchasing a couple of puzzle games and maybe even tuning in to ‘cat tv’ (you can find loads of fun videos on YouTube). If your cat isn’t an outdoor cat, I recommend placing a couple of comfy beds or blankets near a window where your cat can observe the outside world. All these things combined will hopefully keep her physically and mentally stimulated enough to stop obsessing with water so much.

2. Your cat is trying to get your attention

How do you respond to your cat’s behaviour? Do you go to pick her up? Do you talk to her or even tell her off? If you do, then you may be rewarding her behaviour without even realising it. Her goal is to get your attention, and that’s exactly what she gets! When she starts to play with water or tip over bowls/containers, just ignore her. Don’t look at her, don’t talk to her, don’t go pick up the object, etc. It’s hard to do, but it’s the best thing you can do to discourage her from repeating the behaviour.

3. Your cat is hot and trying to cool down

You mentioned it’s getting hot where you live. It’s possible that by splashing water around, your cat is just trying to cool down. Make sure your cat has a comfortable place to hang out and rest in the coolest part of the house. Brush her coat to help her shed some of that heavy winter fur. You can even dampen a towel and rub your cat with it a couple of times a day to help her keep cool. 

4.The bowls/containers/fountains you are providing are too light!

In the end, the above tips may discourage your cat from tipping over water containers, but the behaviour is unlikely to stop completely if they’re light enough to be played with. Since your cat seems to like running water, she’ll probably be happiest drinking from a cat fountain. There are many on the market that are quite large and stable, making them virtually impossible for cats to tip over. You can also purchase weighted or sticky bowls that will be harder to tip. If all else fails, you can DIY weighted bowls by filling the hollow bits of the bowl with concrete! In essence, you’ll need to find something that will be much too heavy for your cat to tip over.

Cats drink little, but water is essential to their well-being, so you are completely right to worry. It’s great that you’re trying to find a solution. Hope this helps, and don’t hesitate to get back in touch if you need more advice!

Justine Seraphin, BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare

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