What Kind of Water Dish for a Cat Who Paws at Water?

He needs a dish he can't push over, otherwise you'll have a puddle on your floor.
i Martin Poole/Photodisc/Getty Images

While walking through the kitchen on your way to pour some coffee, you glide across the floor, slipping on Felix’s water. He spilled it again while pawing at his water dish. To avoid a nasty fall and annoying mess, you’ll have to get him another type of bowl.

Pawing at Water

Rest assured, Felix does not want you to slip on the puddle nor is he trying to make more cleanup work for you. He paws at his water for several reasons, but not to make you mad. Part of the reason he paws at his water is to play. He sees a reflection, flash of light or the slightest ripple in the water. Batting at it keeps him entertained.

Some felines dunk their paws in the water and then lick it from their fur. Felix might be more inclined to drink this way when his water dish isn’t always full consistently. For example, if you fill it this morning and then don’t fill it again until tomorrow night, he can’t quite tell where the water line is, since it varies each time he goes to take a sip. Sticking his paw in the water helps him drink safely so he doesn't have to shove his head in a nearly empty bowl.

Ceramic Bowls

Ceramic bowls are heavy. Felix probably won’t be able to knock it over, especially if he still a is kitten. Cats tend to prefer chilled water. Because ceramic can retain a consistent cold temperature, it’ll keep his water just the way he likes it. As an added bonus, ceramic isn't very porous compared to plastic. Mold, bacteria and other harmful environmental agents aren't likely to build up in a ceramic water dish.

Stainless Steel Bowls

Stainless steel bowls have the same benefits as ceramic bowls. They’ll keep Felix’s water cold and are resistant to gunk building up. However, stainless steel bowls come in two different shapes. Avoid getting him one that has a narrow base and a wide top, which is the same shape as your cereal bowl. One tap on the edge and he’ll knock it right over. Instead, choose a bowl that has a wide base and a narrow opening, similar to the shape of a mountain or hill. Some types have rubber tracking along the base, helping it stick to the floor so he can’t move it.


Pet fountains provide your lovable pal with a steady stream of fresh-flowing water. It stays cool and has natural movement, allowing him to figure out exactly where the water is. He’ll be less likely to paw at it and make a mess. Fountains are heavy so he won’t be able to knock it over, but they are made out of plastic, and are more prone to mold and bacterial buildup. Make sure you clean the fountain several times each week with hot water and replace the filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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