Why do cats knock over water? And how to stop them from doing it


Does your cat dip its paw in its water or plays with it more than drinking? Does your cat drive you mad with its messy antics? Are you wondering why do cats knock over water and how to stop them from doing it?

Why do cats knock over water?

If your cat knocks over their water bowl, it could be because the water is not fresh or clean, or it is not easily accessible to them, or maybe they are experiencing whisker fatigue.

Finding the reason why your cat spills their water is the only way to stop this behavior.

If your kitten is playing with their water, it could be that they are just being playful. Kittens are curious animals and investigating everything is their nature. Kittens grow out of these behaviors as they age so you may just have to wait for them to grow tired of this.

Why does my cat spill her water?

If your cat is spilling their water regularly, it could be a frustrating experience for you to clean their mess. Sometimes this can cause damage to your flooring if they are made of wood and frequent dampening can damage it.

If your cat often knocks over its water bowl, it could be due to the following reasons.

Your cat doesn’t like its water bowl

If your cat’s water bowl is too narrow or too deep, your cat may have difficulty drinking from it due to its sensitive whiskers brushing against the edge of the bowl.

Always go for a shallow and wide-mouthed water bowl which can make it easy for your cat to drink from. Also, go for a good weighted water bowl which will not be easy for your cat to topple.

Your cat’s water is not fresh

Cats like drinking fresh water and hence you should make sure that you replenish their water every day. Leftover water from the previous day is a strict no.

Cats can sense the slightest change in taste and purity of the water and your cat may be knocking over the water as it may not be fresh or clean.

Your cat likes to drink from a flowing source

If your cat likes to drink freshwater, a flowing source of water is what it may prefer. Some cats like drinking water from running faucets or sprinklers.

If your cat is one of those types, get it a water fountain specifically designed for cats.

The continuous flow of water ensures that the water remains aerated and tastes fresh compared to stagnated water.

Your cat is experiencing whisker fatigue

Your cat’s whiskers are not hair extensions, rather they contain blood supplying nerves and are extra sensitive. Your cat feels the slightest touch on its whiskers and sometimes this can be quite agitating to your cat.

If your cat’s water bowl is deep or narrow-mouthed, drinking from it will make your cat’s whisker brush against the sides causing whisker fatigue. This could be the reason your cat may be knocking off its water bowl and drinking from the floor instead.

Change your cat’s water bowl to a shallow and wide-mouthed one.

Your cat is not able to see the top of the water

Sometimes your cat may find it difficult to see the top of the water in its bowl. So it splashes or paws it a little to see the movement of the water.

Some cats are used to drinking from moving water and this could be one of the reasons your cat may be trying to create some ripple in the water before drinking from it.

Your cat is simply trying to grab your attention

Your cat may have realized that spilling its water is the surest way to grab your attention and that is all it is doing. Cats are attention-hungry and will do everything in their power to be the center of your attention.

If your cat is spilling water even when it has a good bowl, clean and fresh water, and doesn’t drink from the floor after knocking it, maybe it is indeed trying to grab your attention.

Your cat is stressed while drinking water

Cats can get stressed out at the slightest change in routine. This can also be triggered due to the introduction of a new pet or family member. Your cat should not be worried about sudden intrusion while eating or drinking.

Maybe your cat’s vision is obstructed while drinking from the water dish so it must be knocking off the water and drinking from the floor instead.

Your cat is just trying to have fun

If everything else looks fine and your cat is still spilling its water, maybe your cat is just acting like a cat. Yes, it may sound funny but cats are strange animals and sometimes there is no reason for their behavior.

They try their best to stay entertained in whatever way they feel right and maybe spilling water is their new way of staying entertained. Give it some time and maybe they will just get tired of it.

How do I stop my cat from knocking over his water bowl?

If you are tired of your cat knocking its water bowl over and over again, then you should look at the following options to see if you can change your cat’s behavior.

Get a water bowl with a good design

A narrow-mouthed or deep water bowl is not an ideal design when buying a water bowl for your cat. Instead, opt for a wide-mouthed and shallow dish. This serves two purposes – it will be easier for your cat to drink water without its vision obstructed and it will not be suffering from prolonged whisker fatigue.

Buying an anti-slip cat water bowl or a heavy-bottomed one will also make it difficult for your cat to topple it.

Get a cat water fountain

If your cat prefers drinking water from a running faucet, then a cat water fountain will be the perfect solution for its need. A water fountain will also ensure that the water is suitably aerated, making it taste fresh. Your cat will surely appreciate the variety that a fountain will offer.

Change water in the bowl regularly

You should ideally change your cat’s water every 4 hours to ensure that your cat gets to drink fresh water. If you are not available throughout the day to do this, then it is better to opt for a water fountain connected to a running water source to ensure an uninterrupted supply of water for your cat.

Identify the right place to keep your cat’s food and water bowls

Cat’s do not like to have their food and water close to each other. Your cat knows that the food can contaminate the water and so keeping it too close to each other may not be to your cat’s liking.

Also, while feeding your cat, you should ensure that it is doing it while being absolutely stress-free without any intervention. This is more of a problem in multiple cat homes when more than cats may cause the others to have their guards up all the time while feeding.

Spend more time playing with your cat

Your cat may be missing important playtime with you. You should try to find time and try to put your cat’s needs ahead sometime. If your kitty feels neglected, it will resort to all sorts of antics to get your attention. Spending time with your cat, rewarding it and clicker training is the best way to discipline your cat.

How big should a cat’s water bowl be?

A cat drinks close to 20 to 40 milliliters of water per pound of body weight per day. So a 10-pound cat may drink 200 to 400 milliliters of water or roughly 2 cups of water. So your cat’s water bowl should be big enough to hold at least 2-4 cups of water considering spillage and water wastage.

If you have multiple cats at home, it is better to have multiple bowls for each cat instead of one large bowl as some cats are not very comfortable sharing with others.


Don’t lose sleep wondering why your cat is knocking over its water. There are ways this behavior can be changed and the easiest way is to get your cat a large anti-slip water bowl or better still a water fountain. Give some time and your cat soon give up on its behavior.

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