Why Do Cats Paw Around Their Water Bowl

Why Do Cats Paw Around Their Water Bowl

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Why Do Cats Paw Around Their Water Bowl?

Do you notice your cat’s paws around their water bowl? They do this often before drinking, while for some cats, it’s a behavioral attitude they give out or make because of discomfort or the reflective property of water being quite entertaining to them.

It is common and normal to see your cat paw and scratch around their water dish, and there are usually reasons behind it. To know more, you should continue reading!

It is more of a concern than entertainment in the course of this particular feline behavior. However, cats’ reaction to water and their water dish is a baffling sight to behold. In this article, we will untangle the mystery behind it once and for all!

Reasons behind cats pawing around their water bowl

Water-reflective property is entertaining

Anything shiny and wiggly easily gets catchy in the eyes of most cats, and that is when you see them poke at it, scratch, or paw at it. Hence, it’s why the reflective properties of water seem entertaining to them. Another nearby source of reflection can be stainless steel. This can easily reflect on the wall or floor where the dish must have been placed.

Your Cat can get curious too

When the glass water bowl reflects water, they would want to try and catch the light around it. Curiosity kills the cats, they say! They turn whatever is around them into a plaything, including their water bowl.

What’s more? For a cat who’s a newbie at drinking water from a water dish, it could make the cat paw around the water bowl to confirm it is nothing to be afraid of.

In the middle of their paw patrol, they create ripples and form reflections around them. This is when it becomes a habit for them and a means of entertaining themselves when bored.

Just like kids play, your cat displays a variety of entertaining moves while also trying to drink their water. It’s no longer news that cats avoid water, but they try to prove us wrong by enjoying the interaction.

It could be caused by the whisker’s discomfort

Most situations could be because of the stress caused by discomfort and their whiskers. In general, a cat has a total of 24 whiskers on its face. The work of these whiskers is to help guide them through their environment.

The category name of those whiskers on either side of the cat’s nose is mystacial whiskers.” Functionally, the end of these whiskers is equipped with proprioceptors (sensory organs) that help the kitten perceive the water bowl (that is, the width of an object).

Now imagine a cat with a narrow water dish; there would be what we call “whiskers stress” due to the pressure being exerted on it through squeezing the vibrissae together or pushing back. Your cat would then be found pawing around and inside their water bowl in an attempt to scoop up water. The bowl being too small is not good enough for them to stick their whiskers into it.

Call it a compulsive behavior

This is known to be exhibited by humans. However, cats are also known for engaging in exaggerated and repetitive, odd behaviors that seem purposeless. Veterinarians have already made this an open awareness. So Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be put on display whenever you see your Cat scratching the sides of their litter box as well as the water bowl in question. Sometimes, for them to show their dislike for things, they would bury them.

So, now that you’re aware that it is nothing but a sign of OCD, you should find no reason to fret or worry too much whenever they make compulsive pacing or repetitive vocalizations.

You need to ensure that their water bowl is always kept clean and the water is filtered. Do not forget to change their water too and feed them with wet food and dry kibble so they can get hydrated enough even as they are eating their food.

A display of territorial instinct

Your female friend loves to claim territory. This is one of the things they can use their paws for, thanks to the availability of a scent gland. They negotiate with their fellow cats to claim ownership over a human friend or thing using this method.

It becomes a problem when several other cats share the same house and threaten them when their water bowl is placed next to a window where outdoor cats share a boundary with them.

You can help your feline companion that is feeling insecure by their fellow cats by giving them another choice of where you will be placing their water bowl away from other cats. Just a quiet spot would do.

What to do? How can I stop this repetitive pawing by my Cat?

Why Do Cats Paw Around Their Water Bowl

Since it has already become an irritating behavior and you have paid much attention while they display those acts when consuming water from their water bowl. You can take some action if you fear that it is something unhealthy.

The first thing is a thorough observation of their drinking habits. Take time to notice when they paw at the bowl the most if they look stressed or not.

Attempt switching to filtering water. You can help by keeping their litter box away from good sources and busy areas like the hallway.

Get interactive with your Cat by playing games with them

Get your Cat suffering from whisker fatigue a Dr. Catsby stainless steel bowl available on Amazon.
Make sure the rugs where you place their water bowl are well kept because it could be the dirt on them that your cat is trying to bury.

After doing all of these and still finding your Cat pawing around his water bowl, you would have to take it to a nearby veterinary clinic to help you understand and solve the mystery behind the unusual behaviors.

Read Also: Can Cats have Oat Milk

Why do cats scratch around their water bowl?

Your feline friend might prefer their water not to be stagnant but moving, just like the sink water, or it could be that they scratch to bury their poop and that their water smells like poop.

Why do cats paw at water?

Since cats naturally prefer running water, they make it happen when you feed them water in a water dish by using their paws to imitate the running water and make ripples as well.

More likely is that they find it fun and a boredom quencher for them as they paw. So that bowl of water is not a limit whenever they feel like having fun with water, and not until it’s bath time, where splashing occurs. It then becomes a habit too. It would be wise to get some fun cat toys to cut down on the mess.

Q: Why do cats paw around their water bowl?

A: Cats may paw around their water bowl as an instinctive behavior. This mimics their instinct to test the water source, ensuring it is safe and suitable for consumption.

Q: Is pawing around the water bowl normal behavior for cats?

A: Yes, it’s a common behavior. Cats use their paws to explore and interact with their environment, including their water source. This behavior is generally normal and not a cause for concern.

Q: Does pawing around the water bowl indicate a health issue in cats?

A: In most cases, no. However, if your cat’s behavior changes suddenly, it’s advisable to monitor for signs of illness. Pawing excessively or avoiding the water bowl may signal an underlying health problem that requires veterinary attention.

Q: How can I encourage my cat to drink more water?

A: Ensure the water is fresh, clean, and placed in a location that feels safe for your cat. Some cats prefer running water, so consider investing in a cat water fountain. Experimenting with different bowl types or locations may also help.

Q: Should I be concerned if my cat knocks over the water bowl while pawing?

A: Cats may knock over their water bowl accidentally while pawing. However, if this behavior is excessive, it might be helpful to use a heavier or more stable bowl to minimize spills.

Q: Can behavioral issues lead to pawing around the water bowl?

A: Stress or anxiety can influence a cat’s behavior, including pawing around the water bowl. Ensure your cat has a calm environment and provide hiding spots or elevated perches if needed.

Q: Are there specific bowls that can minimize pawing behavior?

A: Some cats prefer wide, shallow bowls that don’t touch their sensitive whiskers. Experiment with different bowl shapes and materials to find what your cat prefers.

Q: Should I discourage my cat from pawing around the water bowl?

A: While it’s generally harmless if the behavior becomes disruptive or excessive, you can try offering alternative outlets for their instincts, such as interactive toys or puzzle feeders.

Understanding your cat’s behavior around the water bowl can strengthen the bond between you and your feline friend. If in doubt, consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.


You don’t need to see it as any big deal about your cats pawing around their water bowl or dish. As a cat owner, if you can do well to follow the above necessary prerequisites and seek the attention of a veterinarian or cat doctor. Then it is no longer a problem to worry about.

Funny enough, as alarming as it can be for some pet owners, it is fun for others. So it does depend on if your cat is very sick or if the behavior is getting excessive. However, it will be very good if you are the type that pays the utmost attention to pets.

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