Cats are curious and playful creatures, which means they often do things that raise questions and eyebrows. You might wonder if your cat is normal, or if you should be concerned. One behavior you may have noticed is your cat moving their water around. And it probably makes you wonder why they're doing that. Well, the good news is, that weird behavior is actually common. And there are a number of simple reasons that cats might be moving their water bowls.
Your cat might be playing with the water
One of the most common reasons that you'll find your cat moving their bowl around, spilling water everywhere, is that it's fun. As any cat owner has probably learned, curious felines can find anything a toy. Cats are famously fascinated by water. They're known to play with the water coming out of the faucet or interrupt their humans' bath time to splash around.
Your cat might feel like their water bowl is just another opportunity to enjoy the fascinating world of water. And, although it's clear to you that the water in the bowl is for drinking, not for playing, it's probably not quite as obvious to your kitty. In fact, in a survey of cats' drinking habits reported in Veterinary Focus, researchers found that 44 % of cats played with their water as part of their drinking routine.
Your cat might be trying to make the water move
Though they've been domesticated for centuries, cats still carry some of their wild instincts. And that includes their instinct to drink water that is not still. Their ancestors were more likely to drink from flowing streams and rivers, rather than water sitting in a pond.
In the survey of cat's drinking habits, cats preferred drinking water outdoors from puddles, ponds, or streams, rather than from possibly stagnant water bowls. So when your cat pushes their water bowl around, it may be that they are trying to make the water move and flow, so drinking feels more natural.
Your cat may not like the placement of the water bowl
Cats have an opinion and a preference about almost everything. It's one of the reasons we love them, but it can also lead to some odd behaviors. When your cat moves the water bowl around, they may be telling you that they are not impressed with the its location. Although some cats are okay with it, survey researchers reported that the majority of cats prefer to drink from a bowl that is not next to their food bowl, when they had the option. When they don't have the option, some kitties may take it upon themselves to move their bowl to a more desirable location.
Your cat might be checking (or adjusting) the water level
According to Pam Johnson-Bennett of Cat Behavior Associates, cats are also particular and careful about the water levels in their bowl. They don't want to accidentally get themselves into the deep end. Your cat might be checking the water level or even purposefully spilling it, so that they can drink from a shallow splash on the floor. Your cat may also be trying to bring the level in the bowl down to something more acceptable by splashing it around.
When is it time to contact your veterinarian?
Though usually harmless, there can be times when moving their water bowl constantly is a sign that your kitty needs to see the vet. Though it can be a sign of play, your cat might also be moving their bowl due to stress or anxiety. If moving their water is a new behavior and it comes alongside common symptoms of stress or anxiety – urinating outside of the litter box, tummy troubles, or excessive grooming – then you should take kitty to see the vet.
It's also important to make sure your cat is drinking enough water. You don't want them playing and never drinking. So if your cat is showing signs of dehydration – dry, tacky gums, loss of appetite, or lethargy – then it may also be time for a trip to the vet to figure out what's wrong.
In summary, what should you do about it?
Cats move their water bowl around the house for a number of reasons. If your cat seems to be playing or enjoying themselves by pushing around the bowl, then you don't have to do anything. But if you find the behavior annoying or if it seems like it isn't good for your kitty, try moving the bowl to a different location. You could also try a cat fountain as an alternative to a bowl.