In spite of their reputation for tolerating only dry land, many cats are actually water lovers. Some like to play in standing water, whereas others are fascinated by running water and perfer to drink from a faucet. In The Cat Behavior Answer Book (Storey, 2007), pet writer Arden Moore writes that there are many theories as well as urban legends about this behavior, but no one knows for sure. This attraction to running water may reflect an adaptive behavior from a wild past. Perhaps because running water has fewer contaminates, many wild animals prefer to drink from streams rather than ponds.
Water bowl splashing could also be attributed to the need to test the water to make sure it’s safe. The paw pad represents one of the most sensitive areas of a cat’s body. A cat may scoop water with her paw to check for possible “dangers” in the water or to test the temperature. Cats’ long distance eyesight is superb and they see anything moving easily, but their close-up vision is somewhat weak. They rely on their noses to sample food and paws to test water. And they may be partaking in a little fun and enjoyment seeing the mini-ripples their paws create in the bowl.
Make sure that you provide your cat with fresh water every day, even if she makes a mess. Offer her more than one bowl in your home. If you don’t mind her perching on a bathroom sink, leave one with a few inches of water for her to play in during the day. You might consider an inexpensive automatic water dispenser that trickles water continuously. Many cats find them irresistible. These are readily available at pet supply stores and through catalogs.
Another idea is to take a one-gallon plastic jug and cut a hole about two inches from the bottom. Make the hole just a bit bigger than your cat’s head (don’t forget to allow for her whiskers) so that she can reach in for a drink but can’t splash too much water on the floor. If she pushes the jug around, you can attach it to a wall.
Does you cat play with water? Does he splash in his bowl or drink from the faucet? Share your cat’s water tales with us in the comment field below.