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how to stop cat from spilling water bowl

No matter what you do, your cat is sticking to its habit of spilling water from its bowl. What should you do?

Cats are typically clean creatures. So, knowing that your cat is deliberately creating a mess might seem concerning. But the truth is that spilling water is a common trait among cats when they don’t like something.

And for humans, that can be annoying and dangerous because you never know when a spill might cause a fall.

Most cat parents often remedy this issue by keeping their cat’s water bowl in a corner, not filling it to the brim, and using non-slip bowls, so the water bowl doesn’t flip over. But these are temporary solutions. If you want to troubleshoot this issue permanently, here are some tips and tricks that may help.

We recently recommended a few small cat water fountains which are cost-effective as well as can be used in any part of the home.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Spilling Water

The first step is to learn why your cat is spilling water. Keep in mind, cats, in general, do not like water. Let’s go through some common reasons why cats often spill water.

1. Bowl Size and Depth

Typically, we use standard shallow bowls for water and food. However, if your cat is spilling water unnecessarily, it may be that your cat cannot perceive how deep the water bowl is. The bowl may be too narrow or too shallow to reach in easily.

If your bowl has a deeper color, a deceptively-shaded texture, or is too small, then your cat will have problems drinking from it. Additionally, if the bowl is not deep enough, your cat’s tongue will reach the bottom of the bowl, a sensory issue that will prevent them from drinking from the bowl properly.

Your cat may also have issues drinking from the bowl if the material doesn’t appeal to them. Cats often shy away from plastic bowls because the plastic smell and taste add to the water. Instead, use ceramic or stainless steel bowls. Remember, a cat’s sense of smell is more acute than a human’s. If the bowl has a distinctive smell, your cat will have more problems drinking from it.

2. Health Issues

Your cat will likely make more of a mess if it keeps drinking from the bowl frequently.

Be observant and make a list of all the times your cat drinks water throughout the day. Is it too much? Cats can drink up to 4.5 ounces for every five pounds of their body weight. If your cat is around ten pounds, it may drink up to nine ounces. That is around 1.125 cups. If your cat drinks way more, it may be due to a health issue.

Kidney failure, thyroid issues, diabetes—a myriad of problems increase thirst in cats. If your cat is drinking water excessively, so much that they’re creating a mess, it may be a sign that you need to take them to the vet. Also, be cautious if your cat shows other signs of ill health, i.e., confusion, GI issues like diarrhea or constipation, lethargy, lack of interest in playing.

3. Anxiety

Humans aren’t the only mammals to experience anxiety.

If spilling water is a newly acquired habit, it may just be that your cat is trying to show that they feel anxious in their way.

Is your cat trying to climb into the cat bowl? Is it playing with the water with its pawls? Splashing about in the water bowl or trying to overturn the bowl are clear signs that they need your attention. Stress and anxiety are the most likely cause of this type of behavior.

Triggers may include moving to a new place, a new family member, or any change in their daily life that affects them dramatically. A trip to the vet may solve the issue, especially if your cat is also having litter box issues.

How to Stop Your Cat From Spilling Water

1. Switch Out the Bowl

This is the easiest trick in the book.

If you use a plastic bowl, replace it with a ceramic or stainless steel bowl. Check its depth by placing your finger in the middle of the bowl. If the bowl’s rim reaches above the two notches on your finger, the bowl is deep enough.

Also, make sure the bowl is wide enough. A cat’s whiskers are extra sensitive, and anything that touches them can cause irritation, which prompts some cats sometimes to splash about so they can drink quickly.

Before using the bowl, wash it thoroughly and use filtered water. You’ll be surprised by the difference it makes.

2. Change the Water More Frequently

How often do you switch the old water for freshwater? If your answer is once a day, or worse, sometimes, you’re in the wrong here.

Cats are clean creatures. They prefer fresh water at all times. If you notice your cat spilling water but not necessarily drinking it, it may be that your cat is frustrated or dissatisfied with the water they have. You must change their water at least twice a day.

3. Get More Toys

how to stop your cat from dumping water bowl

If your cat likes upending the bowl, they may also like drinking water from the tap, playing with shower water, or skipping around in any body of water.

In such cases, it helps to make sure you have a wide variety of toys, so your cat’s attention is diverted elsewhere. Water attracts some cats because it’s a malleable, new type of thing. Especially if you have kittens, it may be wise to pull their attention away now by playing with your cat regularly.

You don’t want this to become a permanent habit.

4. Use a Water Fountain

Water fountains are one of the most popular products for pets worldwide.

In particular, cats love water fountains because it delivers a healthy supply of clean, bubbling water that appeals to their ancestral instinct.

Water fountains are not that expensive and are pretty handy among cats with water drinking issues. These fountains filter the water that bubbles out, allowing it to stay fresh and tasty, even if you don’t switch the water out every day.

Water fountains don’t spill either, have a stable bottom, and give clean water at all times—not bad for a small toy-like device!

5. Relocate the Water Fountain

Cats like to drink their water from easy-to-access, quiet locations.

If your cat’s bowl is currently located in a rowdy, busy area, they may not be happy about that, thus the splashing. Try creating a space for your cat’s bowl in a corner or space that doesn’t have too much foot traffic. Make sure the space has a good view of the area and is a piece of furniture, so your cat doesn’t have to worry about watching its back.

If you want to feed milk to your cat then read about Do cats drink milk? It will help you to understand either milk is right for your cat or not.


Cats don’t usually spill from their bowls unless prompted.

Try to find out what’s pushing your cat into spilling water and use any of the above tips to correct your issue. Your cat might thank you for your quick thinking!

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