This Is Why Your Cat Moves Their Water Dish Before Drinking

It’s just one of those little niggles that often pesters you at the back of your mind but you’ve never really quite looked into.

Why does your cat insist on moving their water dish across the floor before taking a drink?

Not every cat does this, of course, but many feline owners will notice the quirky habit of their beloved pet. It doesn’t seem to matter at all where you place the dish or how clean it is, they will drag it across the floor a bit before dipping their head in. And, more often than not, you cats will make a mess while doing it!

There is a perfectly good reason that they do this – it isn’t just to make you have something to clean up. The close up vision of cats is much weaker than their long distance vision and so because of that, when they are right at their water dish, they can’t see the water level.

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In order to check where the water begins – or if there is even any water in the dish – they will move it to cause the water to ripple and splash. Once they are satisfied that they know where the water is, then they will commence their drinking.


There are a number of other reasons to explain why your cat might splash about in their water too, according to Webvet.

They might just be playing around.

If your cat gets little other active stimulation, then splashing about in their dishes might just be their way of having a play.

They do expect moving water. If they regularly drink from a tap, then cats will expect water to somehow move. So when it’s still in a dish it unsettles them and they need to give it a push or a pull.


Also, inconsistency. If the water level is different from day to day, a cat may want to avoid putting their face in just in case it’s higher than they expected. And so some might splash and drink the water from their paws or off the floor.

They do see their reflection. Could that be another cat!? WHACK!

Or, it’s too deep. A cat might feel unsafe dipping its head into the unknown and so will deliberately spill so it can drink from the solid – and familiar – surface of the floor.

And finally, the taste of plastic. Many cats can taste the plastic of their dish in the water so sometimes a metal or glass container is better suited to them.