Cats are mysterious creatures so it’s not always easy to decipher their unique behavior. Still, some are common and easy to explain, like when they paw the floor before taking a sip of water. So why does my cat scratch the floor before drinking water? Usually, this is an instinctive behavior rooted in the wild. It can also be a sign that your kitty isn’t happy about its water or something on the floor is catching their attention.
Below, I discuss other possible reasons behind your cat’s pawing habit:
Reasons why your cat scratches the floor before drinking
1. Your cat is digging up water
Domesticated cats descended from desert felines. In the wild, they will dig up the sand to look for water. So if your kitty seems to be digging on the floor before drinking, this might be the explanation.
This instinctive behavior can also manifest when your cat is eating or playing with its toys. In this case, the kitty is trying to bury its resources to protect it from predators. It’s a survival instinct that felines and other animals perform in the wild.
At home, your cat will do the same thing. However, it may take its toll on your floor, much so if you have hardwood flooring.
2. Your cat doesn’t like the taste or smell
Another possible reason here is that your kitty isn’t happy about the taste or smell of its water. One time, our kitten Watson suddenly paws the floor, as if he’s trying to bury a hole on it. He did it after smelling his food, which he didn’t find appealing.
This is the same as your cat’s water bowl. If the water has an awful taste or smell, your cat will try to bury it. They do this because they think that the smell resembles fecal matter.
Remember that cats have a heightened sense of smell. Even if it doesn’t smell anything to you, their strong sniffers can pick up the slightest odors.
In this case, it’s best to wash the bowl properly and replace the water. Opt for cool and clean water. If the kitty keeps digging, you may consider switching to a water fountain instead.
3. Your cat is curious
Cats are curious animals so their scratching on the ground might be an inquisitive gesture. Something on the floor probably caught the cat’s attention and they are trying to get it by pawing.
Also, some cats may find their new water bowl fascinating so they scratch on the floor to familiarize their selves with it.
4. Your cat is marking its territory
Lastly, your cat is probably marking its territory. This happens whenever another cat is trying to drink from their water bowl. It can also happen if the water bowl is new or has been moved to a new spot. Most of the time, this habit will go away once your kitty has marked the spot. If not, there are ways to curb the behavior.
How to stop a cat from pawing the floor
If your cat’s floor scratching habit is getting destructive and annoying, you can do something to stop it. The following are some of the tips that worked for my kitten Watson.
- Cover up
The easiest way to stop the scratching is to cover the spot. You can use a small carpet so your kitty will not damage the floor. I don’t recommend covering the area with an uncomfortable material because your kitty may stop drinking, which shouldn’t happen.
- Spray a pheromone
To stop your cat from marking its water bowl area, you can spray a special cat pheromone. This helps cats relax so they will drink in peace and not dig through the floor.
An artificial cat pheromone mimics the natural scents felines leave on surfaces. This way, your pet will not be forced to keep marking and pawing on the floor.
Why do cats scratch the floor after eating?
This is a common behavior I also noticed this on my cat Watson. Felines do this to hide their leftovers so they can go back to it later. Wild cats do this to hide their food from predators and other felines. It’s a survival instinct that remains ingrained even on domesticated cats.
This behavior is also called caching. Leopards are widely known for this behavior but their smaller, distant cat cousins also bear the same instincts.
On the other hand, the scratching may actually be kneading. Pet owners call this ‘making biscuits’ because the kitty looks like it’s kneading a non-existent dough.
Cats knead on surfaces when they are happy and contented. It’s a movement kittens do on their mother’s chest while suckling. When adult cats do this after eating, it means that they are comfortable and happy with their meal.
Why does my cat shake her paw when she drinks water?
I‘ve seen this in some cats and vets say that felines do this when they stepped on something unpleasant. For example, the water might have splashed from the bowl and got into the kitty’s foot. In turn, the cat will shake that paw to remove the moisture.
Take note that shaking a paw every time the cat will drink or eat is a sign that the kitty doesn’t like the taste or smell. Pet owners jokingly call this the ‘Paw Shake of Disdain’.
If your cat does this and leaves the water bowl without drinking, take it as a cue that they don’t like the water. You may need to clean or replace it right away.
Why does my cat dig at the floor?
While digging is more observed in dogs, cats can also do this on the floor. The cat may be trying to bury its food, water, or toy. Sometimes, the cat is kneading the floor for comfort and as an instinct that lingered from their kittenhood.
However, you should stop this behavior before it becomes destructive. It will help a lot to divert the habit toward scratching posts and toys.
Why does my cat meow at her water bowl?
Some cats will meow at their water bowls before drinking for odd reasons. One of the reasons my cat Watson’s vet suggested is static electricity. This happens because Watson has a metal bowl, which conducts electrical charge.
Since cats have sensitive whiskers, they can easily sense or receive the charge the moment it touches the bowl. Meowing is my cat’s way of reacting to the charge and releasing it.
The easy solution here is placing a rubber mat underneath the water bowl. Rubber is an insulator that will repel static and it will also prevent the bowl from sliding around.
However, if your old cat is yowling loudly at the water bowl for no reason, you should consider the possibility of dementia.
Why does my cat keep tipping his water bowl?
Cats have a known habit of tipping things over and pushing objects off the edge. If it keeps tipping its own water bowl, your cat might be doing it for attention. Since spilling the water gets your full attention your kitty will keep doing it.
Also, your cat may consider its water bowl as a toy. Boredom plays a big role here so it’s important to keep your pet occupied with toys and scratching posts.
Why do cats tap on their water bowls?
Tapping on their water bowls is a common habit among cats and for good reasons. Felines have a far-sighted vision, which they use for hunting and spotting predators from afar. With that, they don’t see their water bowls clearly while drinking. They tap the water to know where the surface starts so they can drink well and not get soaked.
Some cats will also paw on their water bowl to move it. This means that the kitty doesn’t like the original position of the bowl. The location may be uncomfortable for them. I suggest letting the cat choose a spot and set it up from there.
However, if the cat is keeping on moving it around, you may need to intervene. Some cats love playing with their bowls, which can become an incessant habit.
Why does my cat scratch the floor before drinking water? It can be the caching behavior, a sign that your kitty doesn’t like the water, or just a plain habit. Most of the time, this is harmless. Just place a mat underneath to prevent damages to your floor.