Cat Keeps Knocking Over Water Bowl – 7 Reasons & Solutions

For most cat owners, the behavior of their cats when they keep knocking over their water bowl is quite common.

It can leave owners frustrated and annoyed because they have to keep cleaning their cats’ mess.

Some cats keep knocking over their water bowl even if it was just refilled with clean water.

Cat keeps knocking over water bowl

All cats don’t spill water the same way; different cats spill water in different ways.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways cats spill water:

  1. Paws at the water – This is usually the initial stage. These types of cats use their paw to hit the water in a playful, maybe curious way. Occasionally they could splash the water around the location of the water bowl without knocking the entire water bowl.
  2. Knocks over the entire bowl – These particular cats do go over to their water bowl with the intention of knocking over the water bowl. They could knock over the water bowl with either their front paws or their hinds. Then they drink the spilled water from the floor.
  3. Paws to fiddle with water – Finally, cats take their paws to fiddle with water and spill it out before drinking it. They don’t necessarily knock the entire water bowl.

Regardless, most cats do spill water from their water bowl.

We will look at all the cases of cats spilling water and some of the reasons why they keep knocking over their bowl.

The reason for spilling the water may vary depending on the way they spill.

Reasons Why Cats Keep Knocking Over Their Water Bowl

1. Fun

Cats can find their water bowl to be something to play with.

These cats usually find more than their water bowl to play with, maybe a vase, a ball, or a cup.

Although when it comes to water, owners can testify that cats generally do not like water.

It could be either a bath or just plainly being drenched in water.

However, cats, especially kittens that are filled with curiosity, can’t seem to stop fiddling with water.

2. Type Of Water Bowl

Another reason why cats seem to keep knocking over their water bowl is that they don’t like their water bowl.

It does not necessarily mean the color of the water bowl.

It is more about the structure of the water bowl.

Some cats prefer a water bowl with an additional height, while some prefer water bowls that are wide and shallow.

Some cats do not like getting water in their whiskers, while some cats don’t mind.

Moreover, some cats do not like shallow water bowls, especially if they are tall.

3. To Clean Their Paws

Grooming techniques in cats involve raising their paws and licking the dirt off their paws.

The presence of a water bowl makes the grooming process easier for them to use water instead.

A common sign that the cat is grooming is dipping its paws in the water bowl and then licking its paws.

The knocking over of the bowl can be an accidental attempt to groom itself, especially if the bowl is light.

4. Attention

Cats do sometimes make attempts to seek attention.

Such cats will likely knock over any object either on the floor or at the edge of the counter. This is all to seek some attention.

There are times when the knocking down of objects can be ignored because they don’t require immediate attention.

The cat will most likely knock over objects that require immediate attention, like the vase or the water bowl.

It is because the cat knows knocked-over objects will make the owner run over to its location.

5. Quality And Quantity Of Water

Another reason cats knock over their water bowls is that they don’t like the quality/quantity of the water.

For instance, they knock their water bowls over if they run out of water in their bowls.

This is because they know the water will most likely get refilled. It also applies to the quality of water.

When given the choice, the majority of cats will choose to drink freshly drawn water because they need it fresh every day.

Your feline friend may have learned that when he flips his bowl upside down, you fill it back up with fresh water because you are not changing his water frequently enough.

There are times also that if they notice a change in the taste of the water, even if the water gets refilled, they could keep knocking it down until the quality of the water changes.

Why does my cat keep knocking over water bowl

6. Instinct

The ancestors of cats were used to drinking running water in the wild before they became domesticated.

It is because the transparency of water can make cats difficult to see the water level.

In an attempt to see the water level, they use their paws to test the water level.

If they do not perceive water in the water bowl, they can knock over the bowl.

Even if there is water in their bowl, they can knock it over because the water is still transparent. 

They might be knocking their water bowl over with the aim of refilling their bowls.

However, when the bowl gets knocked off, and the water starts running on the floor, they drink.

This is because the running water creates a rippling effect that allows cats to easily see the water level.

7. Peer Pressure

This can often happen in a location where there are lots of cats in the room.

Even though they might have different water bowls, they can feel pressured to knock on their water bowls.

One of the reasons behind feeling pressured is because they see another cat knocking over the water bowl.

Cats do tend to observe and adopt the behavior of other cats, hence the word copycat.

Cats do not want to lower their head when drinking water because they are afraid that other cats may attack them.

In a home with more than one cat, cats tend to be hostile over who is the boss.

What To Do If My Cat Keeps Knocking Over Water Bowl?

Play Toy

Just like their ancestors, cats have that predator instinct, even though the cat looks all cute and adorable.

Their predatorial instinct is to hit the object with their paws to see if it moves.

Play toys can be given to the cat to exhaust time and energy playing with it to discourage this behavior.

That way, the cat does not have any more energy to play with any other object.

Additionally, it’s possible that your cat has realized that turning his water bowl upside-down will get him your complete, undivided attention, or that the water bowl serves as the ideal toy.

Place Objects That Float On the Water

Another solution would be to place objects in the water. The water in the water bowl can be exceedingly still.

However, clean objects placed in the water can make the cat see the water level comfortably.

These objects do need to float for this method to be effective.

You can also put floor mats underneath the water bowl to lessen the harm that a spill would otherwise do.

Invest In Fountain Water

The reality is cats have a better view of running water than they have of still water.

Fountain water can be a competent solution because the water is always in motion.

Cat fountains are recommended by vets all over the world for keeping your cats hydrated—a crucial but frequently neglected need for feline health.

Fountains provide moving water, which cats crave, enticing them to drink enough.

Separate Water Bowls

Lastly, if there are multiple cats, you can put the water bowls into different rooms. 

Ensure that the bowls have a sturdy base and put them somewhere peaceful with little traffic and a nice view, just like its food bowl.

They might find a hallway, for example, too crowded, even if they love socialization.

This can help with the pressure of drinking in front of other cats.

Also, the cats’ water bowls need to be away from their litter box and in a spot that is clean and smell-free.


The way cats knock over their water bowls differ, and the reason for doing so also varies.

It can depend on the type of bowl, instinct, number of cats, etc.

They may seem to be comfortable with drinking from their bowl and suddenly change their behavior.

The solution would depend on the reason why they keep knocking their bowls over.

A quick solution would be to get a water bowl that is hard to knock down and a floor mat to reduce the mess caused by the spillage.