Cat Behavior: Playing In The Water Bowl

MartyMy kitty Marty is bad about playing in the water bowl he shares with his doggy sister Jessie.  I’ve caught him several times putting his paw in the water, and he often moves the water dish around on the mat.  This has baffled me for some time, and in reading Starting From Scratch by Pam Johnson-Bennett, I may have found some insight  into cat behavior and solving the problem.

As it turns out, the paw dipping can be a case of the cat trying to gauge how much water is in the bowl.  Cats are far-sighted so don’t see very well up close.  If the water bowl isn’t consistently filled to the same level, the cat may not be able to tell if there’s water there.  It can help to have a bowl with a design on the bottom, this makes it easier for cats to see how much water is in the bowl.

In reading further, I learned that although there are many feeding stations that have two dishes side-by-side, one for food and one for water, some cats really aren’t fond of having food and water together.  Cats have very sensitive noses, and they don’t want their water to smell like their food, especially if they aren’t hungry when they go for a drink.  With the double feeder food bits often fall into the water, and some cats don’t abide that well.  Even if you have two separate dishes for food and drink, put some distance between them and see if your cat is better around the water bowl.

Starting From Scratch by Pam Johnson-Bennett is a great resource for insight into adult cat behavior.  This book is available from our online store at

Written by Karen


Karen is Publisher of Fully Feline. She also owns a pet care business in Overland Park, KS called Joy of Living.