How to Stop a Cat From Spilling the Water Bowl

How to Stop A Cat From Spilling the Water Bowl

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Cats are fascinating. No matter how much we learn about them, they always find a way to surprise us. Of course, some of those surprises are less pleasant than others. More often than not, our feline pet will do something that will irritate us, like knocking over water bowls and splashing the water everywhere. In this article, I will help you figure out how to stop the cat from spilling the water bowl. In addition, I’ll cover the possible reasons for the cat behaving that way and what you can do to stop it.


Knocking over the water bowl is a particular cat quirk that has pestered pet owners for years. Not only is it annoying beyond belief, but it’s a waste of water and it takes a while to clean up. So, why do cats do it, and, more importantly, how do we stop it?


Why Do Cats Spill Their Water Bowls?


Before we learn how to stop the cat from spilling the water bowl, we need to figure out the reason behind this action. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, even with years of studying cats, we still don’t know everything about them. Therefore, finding the answer to the spillage mystery is not as clear cut as either you or I would want it to be. 


They Do It For Fun


A cat of any age can be extremely playful. Browse the cat toy aisle in any pet shop or supermarket and you’ll see a myriad of different gadgets, strings, and bells.


However, a cat doesn’t need a toy to have fun. You can literally point a laser dot at the floor and the kitty will run after it non-stop. In addition, cats can mock-bite people during playtime, just like dogs do. So, it’s not uncommon to see a cat swipe at a water bowl with its paws. Both the splash of water and the noise from the bowl can grab the cat’s attention.


Something Is Irritating Them


Cats can feel agitated for different reasons, and they tend to lash out at objects. Now, there could be a whole host of reasons behind the irritation. Generally, they fall into one of two categories.


The first category has something to do with the bowl directly. For example, a bowl that is too narrow and too deep is not adequate for a cat, since it can’t really reach the liquid. Moreover, its whiskers are quite sensitive. When they brush against the inner walls of the bowl, the cat will feel uneasy.


Also, if you don’t clean the bowl enough or use proper cleaning products, it will give off a foul smell. How you place the water bowl is also important. If the cat has a hard time reaching it, it’ll show its anger by tipping the bowl over. 


The second category includes outside sources. Is there a lot of arguing in your home? How about heavy traffic and other noises, have they increased lately? Maybe the cat isn’t getting enough sleep or there’s something in the air that makes it act out. Any number of things can irritate a cat, just like they can do to us, humans. 




While this is also a form of irritation, seeking attention still has its own category. In fact, it’s by far one of the most common causes of cats knocking over objects like water bowls. 


A pet cat is a part of your household and it sees you as their provider. But it’s also a social animal that needs some love and attention, like any other pet mammal. If you don’t play with it often or ignore it for days, your kitty will start doing anything to get you to notice it. 



Some illnesses, such as diabetes, thyroid issues, and kidney failure, make cats thirstier than usual. A feline that suffers from one of these conditions might drink water more frequently and tip the bowl often as a result. However, the cat might simply be knocking down the dish because it’s feeling uneasy or stressed out. This behavior stems from having other illnesses or conditions (stress, anxiety, OCD).


How to Stop the Cat From Spilling the Water Bowl — List of Solutions


Now that I’ve laid out some of the common causes of water bowl tipping, let’s talk solutions. Of course, my tips on how to stop the cat from spilling the water bowl won’t work in every situation. I strongly advise that you study your cat’s behavior and try to match it to one of the common reasons for bowl-tipping I listed above. 


Get a New Bowl

If your cat’s bowl is narrow and deep, make sure to replace it as quickly as possible. A proper bowl will be wide and shallow, so your cat can literally reach the water from any direction. 


Old bowls are also not appealing to cats. So, don’t keep pouring water in that cracked plastic container that you’ve been using for years. Bowls are not expensive, and you can get one anywhere. In fact, if you can’t get a pet bowl, just use a regular porcelain soup plate.


And speaking of porcelain, pay extra attention to what your current bowl is made of. Cats can easily knock down soft plastic and even aluminum. Instead of a plastic bowl, get a sturdy ceramic container. A cat will have a hard time knocking it over since it’s heavier than most plastic containers in retail right now. 


Interestingly, you can get a fountain container that has a constant flow cycle. Cats love drinking from flowing water; even fully domesticated cats know how it feels to drink from a moving stream or a river. Therefore, the movement of water actually helps them focus. Another type of water container that won’t cause any spillage is the non-spill upright bottle that guinea pigs drink from. 


Get New Water

It’s not enough to have a sturdy, durable water bowl. Cats need freshwater, so if your pet sniffs out the stale liquid, it will knock the bowl down. They might even do it if the water looks clean, but contains excessive amounts of limestone or other harmful ingredients.


The solution to this issue is simple enough. Every day, make sure you change the water in your cat’s bowl at least once. In addition, make sure that the water you’re pouring in is safe. If there’s a limestone issue, talk to your plumber as soon as possible. On the other hand, if you use bottled water to keep your pets hydrated, you might want to try a different brand. A pet owner who knows how to stop the cat from spilling the water bowl will try as many options as they can.


Clean the Bowl

After a while, bowls will show marks of dirt, limestone, grime, salt, or other harmful ingredients. No pet wants to drink from a dirty bowl, so make sure to clean it thoroughly. However, try washing it with non-toxic soap. More often than not, people will use regular dishwashing liquid, or even laundry detergent, to get the job done. And while these products can clean the bowl, some traces of the cleaning product will remain, and they can harm our pets if they ingest them. 


Change the Location of the Bowl

Sometimes, understanding how to stop the cat from spilling the water bowl is as easy as moving an item from point A to point B. If you place the water bowl next to the litter box or in your bathroom, the odors can make the cat avoid it altogether at some point. So, in order to kill two birds with one stone, simply move the bowl to an easy-to-access area. In fact, you can even place it in the shower for a while, where spilling is not an issue. Cats will associate spilling with the shower cabin, so they won’t knock the bowl down when you move it somewhere else later. 


Take Your Cat to a Vet

If your cat drinks a lot of water or keeps tipping the bowl, you should take it to the vet. Once they diagnose what’s wrong, they can outright tell you how to stop the cat from spilling the water bowl in the future. Sometimes, it’s as easy as changing your daily routine with your feline pet. But if it’s more serious than that, your furry buddy will have to take proper medication.


Play With Your Cat

Yes, just playing with your cat is one of the most common answers to how to stop the cat from spilling the water bowl question. If your cat feels lonely, left out, or is slacking off, take some time and have fun with it. Let it chase a string, tickle it, do a little roughhousing — anything to get the cat’s mind off of the bowl. Once it spends all that energy on playing, it won’t have the desire to flip any water bowls later.


Some Final Words on How to Stop the Cat From Spilling the Water Bowl


As you can see, there are plenty of things that can cause a kitty to go berserk on a dish filled with some H2O. With that in mind, always remember to investigate the problem carefully. Don’t be mean to the cat; try to understand it and start working on fixing the problem. Once you figure out how to stop the cat from spilling the water bowl, both you and your purring buddy will live happier, more peaceful lives.  


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