Cats engage in all sorts of weird behaviours that are both endearing and baffling at the same time. They love to knock over things, bounce off the walls, nibble on grass, and nap in tight places. And then there are some cats that dip their paws in the water to drink. Whilst it’s easy to dismiss this as a strange cat behaviour, there are actually legit reasons for doing so and here are some of them.
Cats prefer to drink from moving water than stagnant water
Cats would rather drink from moving water than water in a bowl. This is why your cat is likely to dip her paws into the bowl as a way to mimic water ripples. Some felines find free-flowing water more refreshing and more enticing to drink. Water left for hours brings a different smell that is unpleasant to them. As a creature prone to over-grooming, your cat will not like stagnant dirty water.
This is also the reason why some cats drink directly from the faucet. If your cat refuses to drink from a bowl, it’s recommended to get a pet water fountain to prevent dehydration.
Cats see water as an entertainment
Kittens are more likely to play with water because they are entertained by the visuals and sounds from the water bowl. It gives them the same enjoyment that interactive toys bring.
To prevent whisker stress or discomfort
Cat whiskers have more sensitive nerve endings than the rest of their fur. That’s why cats are prone to whisker stress. When sensitive tactile whiskers get in contact with the water bowl, your cat will feel the pressure and discomfort. So to avoid the unpleasant feeling, your cat would rather dip her paw in the water than drink directly from the bowl.
To prevent whisker stress, provide your cat with a bowl wide enough to accommodate her long whiskers. A shallow wide bowl is recommended so that the whiskers will not touch the sides of the bowl when your cat lowers her head to drink.
To have a sense of security
In a multi-cat household where cats compete for dominance, a cat may refuse to put her head below the rim of the bowl for fear of potential attackers. Cats with security issues do not want to show any signs of weakness. Your cat may dip her paw in the bowl for a drink so she doesn’t become too vulnerable. Changing the water bowl placement can help make your cat feel less vulnerable. But more than that, make sure to introduce new kittens or any pets the right way.
To test the water depth
Your cat may use her paw to test the depth of water. If you are replenishing the water bowl inconsistently, your cat may become more cautious of drinking from the bowl. By creating water ripples, it allows them to test and see the exact level of the water, preventing their nose and whiskers from getting wet.
Age and health concerns
As your cat ages, her eyesight may deteriorate which makes it difficult to determine the water depth in the bowl. As such, she is likely to dip her paw in the water to drink. If you suspect that this is the case with your furry companion, it is best to have her vision tested for early medication.
Watch this video of a cat drinking water from its paws:
Cats drinking ‘their own way’
Cats have a more elaborate way of drinking water compared to dogs. They do not just dip their tongues to scoop liquid. They use the tip of their tongue to flick water up. This creates a small jet of water that they catch in their mouth. They are quite fast too as they lap water four times per second. But there are cats that prefer a less elaborate way to hydrate themselves. Sometimes all it takes is dipping their paws on the water bowl.
Watch this video of a comparison between how a cat and dog drinks:
Regardless of how cats prefer to drink, the most important thing is to make sure that they are consuming fresh water. What other unusual drinking habits have you observed with your furry friends? Share your cat’s quirks with other cat owners!