Water Bowl Playtime

A feline behavior expert explains why a cat may have developed a sudden interest in her water bowl.

By Pam Johnson-Bennett

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Q: I have two 15-year-old indoor cats, Harry and Sally. Recently, Sally began playing in the water bowl. She makes a big mess! Do you have any suggestions?

Feline behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, author of Think Like a Cat, says:
I have two suggestions for you. First, because of your cat's age, I would recommend a trip to the veterinarian because older cats are prone to renal failure. Chronic renal failure (CRF) causes the cat to drink more water and so the cat may be playing around the water bowl or pawing at it due to an increased interest in it.

Many cats do play in the water and to help with that, you can get a pet water fountain. They are available at pet supply stores and the running water entertains the cat and encourages her to drink more.

To help with any spills, you can place the water fountain on a pet placemat that has raised edges also available at pet supply stores. If you can't find a water fountain at your local pet supply store, they are easily found online.

Pam Johnson-Bennett, CABC
IAABC-Certified Animal Behavior Consultant

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Reader Comments

Donna    Portland, TX

1/22/2015 11:40:05 PM

Interesting article, as many people think cats avoid water.
My 10 yr. old cat who was always a "tubby tabby", began losing weight. He had always liked to drink water, so I didn't notice that he was drinking more than usual. I did notice he was peeing more than usual. the vet was concerned about possible kidney failure. But I knew that these symptoms in a human can also signal diabetes. Thankfully it turned out to be diabetes, which can be treated (unlike kidney failure) with insulin, . My problem now is, that often when I give him his twice daily insulin injections, he bites me! It's not serious... just a form of protest. But is there some way I can prevent his unpleasant reaction?

Karen    Canfield, OH

5/19/2014 10:17:27 AM

My ten year old has played with the water in the bowl all her life. I keep it in the bottom of my shower with the door always open so she can come and go as she pleases!

Kat    Springfield, MO

12/28/2013 1:03:23 AM

My kitty Blue is over 10; birthday was Christmas Eve, he loves to drink from tub faucet and play in the tub. Hes even tried to jump in while we're showering. Is this unusual?

janet    bethlehem, PA

9/13/2013 4:20:53 AM


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