How can I stop my cat (kitten) from playing in his water bowl?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – Why has my 7-month-old kitten just developed the habit of playing with his water, moving the bowl off the lip of the feeding mat, and tip the bowl over? I have tried heavy bowls and he still is doing it. How do I get him to stop?


Sandra Southwell


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote that your kitten is playing in his water bowl! This is a pretty common behavior in cats. Some just love to play in their water. I know several cats that will play in it and love to dip their paw in and drink from their paws! I don’t know why. I think they do it because it is fun for them. Many of these same cats LOVE it when you turn on the faucet and love to drink from the faucet and play in that water too. The running water or moving water may appeal to their sense of sight.

I’m not sure there is a lot you can do. Many cats will grow out of it. To minimize the mess – you can ensure there is a plastic mat under their water. Also, you can use a big bowl and not fill it up all the way. Ensure the bowl is heavy and stable so it can’t be moved. Many cats like fountains – e.g. the Drinkwell pet and they can be “entertained” continuously. Eventually, most cats get a bit bored with it and don’t play as much.

Another thing you can do is ensure that you are spending dedicated play time with your cat. Wear him or her out every day. Ensure they are getting fulfilled with other types of play and that they are not bored and thus playing in the water.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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