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 paws around their water bowl? And 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 seeing your cat paw and scratching around their water dish, and there are usually reasons behind it. To know more, then 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 on 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 kind 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, Cat has a total of 24 whiskers on a cat’s face. The work of these whiskers is to help guide them through their environment.

The category name of those whiskers at either side of the Cat’s nose is mystacial whiskers.” Functionally, the end of these whiskers is equipped with proprioceptors (sensory organs) that aid 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 into 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 at mere 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 paw for and 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 filter 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 whiskers fatigue a Dr. Catsby stainless steel bowl available on Amazon.
Make sure your 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 you still find 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 paw 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.


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 the behavior is getting so excessive. However, it will be very good if you are the type that pays utmost attention to pets.

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