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Posted on Sun, May 29, 2011 : 10:54 a.m.

Splish, splash: Cats playing with their water bowls is a common behavior - but is it normal?

By Lorrie Shaw

Young cats are curious creatures and sometimes, we humans are left feeling perplexed when it comes to their behavior.

It's important for felines to have healthy doses of sensory input, stimulation and things that pique their interest.

As anyone who shares a life with cats will tell you, their interests are all different. But one typical activity that a lot of cat owners mention to me is that their furry friends play with their water bowl. A common question is: "Is it normal?"

The answer is, yes, quite normal, in fact. It's typically seen in young felines. It's harmless, save for some slippery floors created by their enthusiasm.

Cats are fascinated by water. If it's dispensed from a sink, in a tub, or other sources, it's something to behold.

As Dr. Arnold Plotnick, MS, DVM, ACVIM, ABVP explains, a cat playing with its water dish shouldn't pose any worry, and it's something that a lot of young kitties do.

A word of caution: If your cat is older and suddenly starts showing an increased interest in her water bowl, it can be related to a medical condition like chronic renal failure, something that Dr. Jess Franklin, DVM talked about here in's Pet section a few weeks ago.

In any case, it's a good idea for your cat to see the vet to rule out any illnesses, regardless of age — especially if the behavior is a sudden change.

If you find the behavior bothersome, there are a few options to help minimize the it.

Many pet owners opt to use a cat water fountain. This unique bowl circulates water and creates a pleasing sound that intrigues most cats, keeping them happy.

A more common approach is to use a wide-bottomed bowl, preferably ceramic or a stainless steel variety set in a stand with rubber stoppers on the feet that helps minimize tipping.

The following is footage of what most cat owners see from their young cats.

Lorrie Shaw is lead pets blogger for and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.



Mon, May 30, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

Ever since someone spilled some ice cubes on our floor, this became one of our cats favorite toys. Sliding along the wood floor, an ice cube moves quickly and makes an interesting sound and our cat loves to chase it, catch it, carry it proudly in his mouth, usually hiding it in some unsuspecting victim's shoe or slipper. He has learned to beg for the cubes by stretching up the side of the refrigerator, he is getting very close now - to figuring out how to trigger the ice dispenser by himself!

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, May 30, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

Good grief!!! Are we going to analyze EVERYTHING? Anyone who tries to pin a cat or cats down to expected activity doesn't know much about cats. Put down a mat and sit back and enjoy the cat fun.

Lorrie Shaw

Mon, May 30, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

Elaine: I guess that is the point. Not everyone is quite as familiar with feline behavior, and quite honestly, I get a LOT of questions about this topic. I know that some people are concerned that it might be an obsessive behavior, so this topic is worthy of discussion and gaining clarity on. Understanding feline behavior better can only enhance the relationship between pet and the humans that they share their lives with. I agree - sit back and enjoy the show! Cats are masters of comedy! Thanks for your comment!


Sun, May 29, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

I think it has something to do with movement and curiosity. One of our cats like to watch when I turn on the faucet while rinsing a dish. They like to watch water swirl in the sink and go down the drain. When the water is turned off, they peer over the side of the sink down at the drain as if to say-where's the water? Another cat one day encountered backup in the basement from a drain (minor episode) and watched it bubble up. Then he sat in front of the drain for days waiting for it to do it again (which it never did.) When I put ice in the waterbowl during the summer, they will bat around the ice.

Lorrie Shaw

Mon, May 30, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

JMA2Y: Oh, that so funny. So many cats are fascinated by water. They're extremely tactile and water lends itself to allowing them to really hone in on their sensory abilities. Putting ice cubes is a really neat idea, I think - another "layer", so to speak to enhance sensory stimulation. :) I appreciate you sharing your experience with your cats!