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How to Stop a Cat from Spilling Their Water Bowl: 8 Methods

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

Gray cat on the floor of the room near a bowl of water

There are few sensations more unpleasant than walking through the house and stepping in a water puddle, soaking your socks. For many cat owners, though, puddles around the water bowl are a daily reality because some cats just really like to spill their water bowl.

Why do cats do this, though? Is it more than just a strange habit? Let’s talk about why cats do this! The good news for you is that there are multiple things you can do to discourage or stop this behavior altogether. Some are extremely easy options you can pull off in no time flat!


Why Do Some Cats Spill Their Water Bowls?

There are a few reasons your cat may engage in this behavior, but most of them are benign and shouldn’t be overly concerning to you. Many cats do this simply for the fun of it. Cats are curious animals that love to interact with their environment, with water being present in every pet cat’s environment.

Some cats may not like drinking out of a bowl of still water, especially from a dish that is deep and narrow. In the wild, cats typically drink from moving bodies of water, like streams and ponds. They rarely drink from still water, making the sensation of drinking still water from a bowl feel unnatural. Some cats may drink by dipping their paw into their water and licking it from their paw or the floor, while others may work to dump the whole bowl.

On rare occasions, behavioral or medical issues may cause your cat to spill their water bowl. Some cats may spill their bowl as a show of anxiety or distress, while others may spill it due to cognitive changes. Some medical conditions may cause your cat to be shaky or have poor depth perception, causing them to accidentally spill their water. Other issues, like diabetes and kidney disease, may cause your cat to increase their water consumption, which increases the likelihood of an accidental spill or splash.

hepper single cat paw divider

The 8 Ways to Stop Your Cat from Spilling Their Water Bowl

1. Consider a fountain.

Moving water is a lot more natural for cats, so some prefer to only drink moving water. A pet fountain is a great way to encourage your cat to drink more water and decrease the amount of water your cat spills. Most pet fountains are designed to be tip-proof, but they won’t necessarily decrease water being splashed out by your cat. Some cats enjoy sticking their paws into moving water and then licking the water from their paws.

Water fountains can really help your cat drink more water, but finding the right one can be a challenge. Our Hepper Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain will keep your cat safe and hydrated with its advanced triple filtration system and large capacity. It's easy to clean in the dishwasher and offers three different flow modes and an automatic shutoff. 

Hepper Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain
  • Premium 304-Grade Stainless Steel - This metal cat water fountain is hygienic, with superior...
  • Serene & Healthy Cat Drinking Fountain Experience - With whisper-quiet pumping & an advanced...

2. Provide clean water.

If your cat is unhappy with the quality of the water you’ve provided, then they are more likely to spill it. By providing clean water at least once per day, your cat will be much happier (and healthier). Some cats may require fresh water to be replaced multiple times per day, but most cats will be content with daily fresh water. Make sure to clean the water bowl with soap and water at least once per week to prevent algae, mold, and mildew growth. Even water fountains need regular cleaning to keep them safe and functioning properly.

4. Try a different bowl.

A bowl with a wide, heavy base will be less likely for your cat to be able to spill. A large, shallow dish will also provide your cat with a drinking experience that doesn’t lead to whisker fatigue or feel too unnatural for them. This approach may not deter your cat if they prefer splashing over spilling.

Many cat owners will agree water spills are a regular occurrence in their homes since most felines can’t resist dipping their paws into their ever-so-fresh and fun water dishes. Our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl was designed to catch the splashes bound to escape from the bowl during both meal and play time. Two stainless steel bowls fit securely into a PP plastic base that features a wide moat-like tray, protecting your floors from drips and any potential damage. Its two-compartment, dishwasher-safe design means your floor will also remain food-free! 

Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
  • NO MESS - The 360° tray on this cat food and water bowl set has a raised design to catch and...
  • WHISKER FRIENDLY - Shallow and wide metal containers with flat bottoms ensure your kitty can enjoy...


4. Try a bowl holder.

A bowl holder may also be called a feeding station or something similar. Anything that provides a wide, stable base for your cat’s water bowl will help prevent spills. The nice thing about this option is that they typically have a built-in lip or surface that will help contain spills, making this a good option for spillers and splashers alike.

5. Only do partial fills.

By only partially filling your cat’s water bowl, you can significantly limit your cat’s ability to tip the bowl over to spill it. It also decreases the chances that your cat will splash water out of the bowl. However, by doing partial water bowl fills, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the water level and refill it throughout the day as needed to ensure your cat has plenty of fresh water available to drink.

cat drinking from a bowl of red bowl
Image Credit: fantom_rd, Shutterstock

6. Use a tray.

A tray designed for containing pet messes is a great option for keeping your floors (and socks) safe if your cat does not give up on spilling or splashing water. These trays are made of water-resistant materials, like silicone, which are easy to keep clean. They typically have some kind of lip that helps capture splashes and spills. This won’t necessarily stop your cat from spilling their water, but it will keep water off the floor.

7. Use an absorbent pad.

There are multiple types of pads you can use underneath your cat’s water bowl. There are absorbent pads made for this purpose, but other items you can use that have similar effects are washable and single-use puppy pads, dish drying mats, and microfiber towels. Like the trays, this option won’t necessarily prevent your cat from spilling their water, but it will reduce the mess if they do.

8. Talk to your vet.

A vet checkup is always a good idea when you notice unusual changes in your cat’s behavior and habits. If your cat has suddenly begun tipping their water bowl or splashing water, a vet visit may be in order. Your cat’s vet will be able to help you rule out significant medical or behavioral issues that may require medical intervention to correct.

a female veterinarian with cat
Image Credit: Tom Wang, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

If your cat spills their water bowl regularly, it can be frustrating, not to mention damaging to your floors. You have multiple great options to prevent your cat from spilling their water bowl and help correct undesirable behaviors. You may need to combine multiple options to keep your cat from spilling their water bowl or otherwise making a mess. Some cats may not stop spilling their water no matter what you do, so finding alternatives that protect your floors from damage may be the best you can do.

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Featured Image Credit: Yuliya Alekseeva, Shutterstock

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