“Umm, could there be something wrong with my cat? She uses her paw when she’s drinking water like she needs help!”
Pet parents, unite! Our fluffy friends showcase a myriad of odd behaviors we can’t even begin to explain. With headbutting, peeing outside the litterbox, and pawing at the water, we’ve got our work cut out for us – and that’s why we’re happy to share our experiences and help each other out.
Pawing at the water doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your bundle of fluff. Fluffers seem to be fond of exploring the world by pawing at different surfaces, whether that’s your favorite footwear or a packet of Meow Mix. For the most part, pawing’s instinctual and intuitive.
Ease your worries with a few of our favorite explanations down below!
Why does your cat use her paw to drink water?
1. Because she’s experiencing whisker fatigue
Now, your cat’s whiskers are super, super sensitive.
Whiskers are a sort of sensory equipment that guides cats through their daily tasks. With the help of whiskers, cats can hear better, see, better, and navigate the environment without getting hurt. But because whiskers are sensitive, they can cause cats to become overwhelmed and overstimulated.
When that happens, cats might try to avoid touching them, rubbing them against different surfaces, and employing them whatsoever. When your cat starts pawing at the water or drinking water off her paw rather than licking it from the bowl – she might be trying to avoid touching the bowl with her whiskers.
2. It’s an instinct thing – she’s trying to bury the water and save it for later
Yes, we do know that sounds strange.
You have to understand that domesticated cats have the same instincts and intuition as wild cats. You might think your precious purrincess wouldn’t kill a fly, but she’s probably plotting to take down every bird that appears on your window sill and every mouse that dares run through your backyard.
Wild cats bury dead animals to avoid attracting predators. Domesticated cats sometimes bury the little treats and trinkets you give them to save them for later or keep them safe from the rest of the household. Your cat might be trying to do the same thing with her water.
3. Because she’s not a fan of water that’s not fresh enough for her exquisite palette
Cats are really, really bad at drinking water.
You might have noticed your four-legged friend eating everything you serve her for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but refusing to drink water. You might have even resorted to adding water to her food to ensure she keeps her hydration levels up. Cats don’t like the taste of water, and that’s OK.
But we can’t forget about the fact that cats aren’t fans of still water, either, and that’s one of the reasons why your cat might be pawing at the water you serve her. Moving water equals fresh water – that’s the rule of the wild. Still water equals biofilm, bacteria, and other gross things your cat doesn’t want to drink.
A water fountain would be the purrfect solution.
4. “Umm, why’s the bowl so small, Mom?”
Cats and water don’t go together, right?
When your fluffy friend tries to drink the water you served her, she might not like the size or the shape of her water bowl. When the water bowl’s too small, your cat’s whiskers might end up touching the brim of the bowl – and you know how cats feel about that.
Or, she might need to dunk her entire head into the bowl to get to the water – and she doesn’t want to do that. Other than the obvious solution, which would be to get a new water bowl, you might need to keep your cat’s water bowl full at all times.
Of course, that would solve the problem of drinking still water, too.
5. Because she’s suffering from some sort of a health problem
When we say “health problems,” we aren’t talking about conditions and diseases that might prevent your cat from drinking water. We’re talking about the little niggles that might affect the way she approaches drinking water.
Maybe she doesn’t see that well and she’s relying on her paws to check the depth, the cleanliness, or even the temperature of the water. Perhaps she’s old and can’t move as much as she did before and she’s relying on her paws to bring the water closer to her face (rather than bending down and hurting her neck).
Whatever the case might be, you might want to contact your vet and make sure everything’s OK with her.
6. “I’m having so much fun, Mom!”
You know, cats can like water.
Cat breeds such as Turkish Van, Turkish Angora, and Bengal adore swimming, splashing, and playing with water. Kittens that have been around pools for ages might grow up to appreciate water more than your average moggy that runs away the moment the first few drops of rain fall on the ground.
Your four-legged friend might be pawing at the water because she’s playing. You taught her that she shouldn’t play with her food, but you didn’t teach her that she shouldn’t play with her water – we’re kidding, we’re kidding. You might want to play with her, too.
7. It’s a depth perception thing – she’s measuring the depth of water
Observe her behavior when she’s pawing at the water.
On one hand, she might be licking the water off of her paws because she can’t or doesn’t want to drink the water straight out of the bowl.
On the other hand, she might be pawing at the water because she’s checking how much she’s supposed to drink. When she’s done, she’s probably going to proceed to drink the water the regular way.
Not to mention that she might choose to walk away on the chance that she decided that the water bowl was too deep for her.
Cats are always alert when they’re trying to protect themselves from danger, even when there’s nothing dangerous about the matter at all.