Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > How to Stop a Cat from Spilling Their Water Bowl: 6 Tips & Tricks

How to Stop a Cat from Spilling Their Water Bowl: 6 Tips & Tricks

maine coon cat pawing its water bowl

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Are you having an issue with your cat continuously spilling their water bowl? You aren’t alone. This is a common frustration that many cat owners share.

While it’s not an issue that would make the list for being the worst of the worst as far as behaviors go, it’s no fun having to clean spills off the floor constantly.

So, if water bowl spillage is a problem in your household, we are here to help. Here are some simple steps you can take to put a stop to this once and for all.

divider-cat

The 6 Tips & Tricks to Stop a Cat from Spilling Their Water Bowl

1. Use a Heavier Water Bowl

One of the main reasons your cat may be spilling the water bowl is because it’s too light. Lightweight bowls may have their conveniences but if your cat is prone to spillage, you should consider using a heavier water bowl.

Heavier water bowls will typically be made of ceramic, stainless steel, or glass. All of these are very durable and long-lasting materials, but you’ll want to be more careful not to drop glass or ceramic from high places, as they can crack and break. They also come in a wide variety of styles and color choices.

The heavier the bottom of the bowl, the better. You will have no trouble finding a heavy bowl, they can be found online or in any pet store or retail store near you.

Pros
  • Difficult to tip over
  • Durable
  • Long-lasting
  • Easy to find
Cons
  • Ceramic and glass can crack and break if dropped
grey cat near water bowl
Image Credit: Vera_Chan, Shutterstock

2. Try a Water Fountain

A lot of pet owners enjoy the convenience of water fountains to keep fresh water flowing throughout the day. Most cats enjoy drinking from actively flowing sources like sinks or bathtubs, so this is a great way to offer water just how they like it.

The fact that cats are drawn to running water not only helps encourage drinking and better hydration, but fountains prevent stagnant water, thus keeping it cleaner and they are not easy to spill. Of course, this does depend on how the fountain is constructed.

For the most part, water fountains are typically quite sturdy and well-constructed. They may come at a higher upfront cost, but they are highly recommended by veterinarians and happy cat owners.

You could run into an issue if your cat uses the fountain as a play area and bats around the water, which defeats the purpose entirely. So, keep your cat’s behavioral tendencies in mind when deciding whether a fountain is a good option.

Pros
  • Cats love running water
  • Encourages drinking and hydration
  • Keeps water cleaner
  • Difficult to spill
Cons
  • Typically, more expensive
  • Some cats may play in the water

Finding a great water fountain that you and your cat will both love is harder than it sounds.

Hepper Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain
1 Reviews
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...
  • Say Goodbye to Dehydration - Provide your cat with a constant source of flowing water with this...

We recommend Hepper's Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain, a beautifully designed option with triple filtration, adjustable flow modes, and a conveniently large capacity. This fountain is easy to clean (many parts are even dishwasher-safe!) and sturdy enough to last for years. 

At Pet Keen, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool company!


3. Use a Feeding Station

A great way to keep your cat from constantly spilling its water is by investing in a feeding station that holds both the food and water, rather than offering a traditional, lightweight water bowl.

You don’t want to opt for the lightweight plastic feeding stations, as you are likely to run into the same issue of spillage which will include both food and water in this case. You want to consider a more durable plastic or even stainless steel, wood, or ceramic for the material.

There are plenty of heavy, sturdy feeding stations that are aesthetically pleasing and have removable bowls so that you can feed and replace fresh water as needed. Some feeding stations even have high backs and sides to prevent excess spillage and feature a tray to catch any excess food or water.

If you pick a quality material, your feeding station will last quite some time. The only issue is that feeding stations aren’t always ideal for multiple cat households.

Pros
  • Difficult to tip over
  • Heavy and durable
  • Long-lasting
  • Convenient
Cons
  • Not ideal for multiple-cat households
cat beside feeding station
Image Credit By: Nina Lishchuk, Shutterstock

4. Keep Fresh Water in the Bowl

Your cat may be spilling their water because it is no longer up to its standards. If it has been sitting stagnant for quite some time, the water can fill up with hair that has been shed, dust particles, or any other type of debris in the household.

If there are dogs in the home, they may have lapped up some water from your cat’s bowl and left behind their slobber, and who would want to drink after that?

Since there’s nothing quite like a nice, cool glass of fresh water, we can understand why cats would request the same. Also, if it’s been sitting out for too long, it may have taken on that stale taste.

Change your cat’s water out frequently by pouring the old, washing and drying the bowl, and putting fresh in. This could solve your problem entirely and it’s healthier for your cat. There are no downsides to keeping fresh water in your cat’s bowl.

Pros
  • Promotes clean drinking water
  • Better tasting
  • May prevent spillage
Cons
  • None

5. Fill the Bowl with Less Water

You may notice a lot of water being spilled out of your cat’s bowl because it has been filled too full, to begin with. Of course, you want your cat to have access to as much water as they need, but if you go overboard it could result in a mess.

Filling the bowl with less water should be no problem, especially if you consistently keep fresh water in the bowl. This may not solve your problem entirely, and you may want to resort to other steps on the list but could be enough to solve your issue.

Pros
  • Harder to spill
Cons
  • Less water available
grey cat drinking water from bowl
Image Credit: Prilutskiy, Shutterstock

6. If All Else Fails, Try a Tray

If all the other steps aren’t working out for you, try putting a tray underneath your cat’s bowl. Some cats are just more playful or messier than others and we must find workarounds.

A tray will not prevent spillage, but it will make cleanup much easier and will prevent water from soaking the floor by keeping it all in one spot. You can use a tray for both the food and water bowls for extra mess prevention.

Pros
  • Easier cleanup
  • Keeps spills in one place
  • Great for food and water
Cons
  • Does not prevent spills

divider-cat

Reasons Your Cat Could Be Spilling Their Water

They Are Intrigued

Some cats may like water but most aren’t huge fans of swimming or playing in bodies of water, a lot of cats show a lot of interest in less-threatening water sources. If you notice your cat is always hopping up on the sink to check out the running water, likes to join in the bathroom when you’re showering, and is always messing with their water bowl; they may just be expressing genuine interest in water.

They Are Being Playful

Cats are playful creatures that will go to great lengths to entertain themselves. If your cat is always messing with their water bowl and spilling it constantly, this may just be a way to keep themselves entertained.  

cat washes feet on bowl
Image Credit: yykkaa, Shutterstock

The Water Isn’t Fresh

If water has been sitting stagnant for a while, it will lose its freshness and the taste ultimately changes. Lots of random debris can get into the water bowl when it is left sitting and if your cat notices, they may not be too keen on drinking water that isn’t up to par.

Behavioral Changes

If your cat is suddenly spilling their water bowl regularly when this isn’t normal behavior, there may be something that has caused a change in its usual behavior. This can be related to a change in routine or lifestyle, or they may have just discovered that playing with water is fun. While spilling water is normal behavior for cats overall, if you ever have concerns over sudden changes in your cat’s behavior, it’s a good idea to reach out to your veterinarian.

divider-cat

Conclusion

It’s common for cats to spill their water bowls and there are several reasons why they exhibit this type of behavior. While it’s a common complaint among many cat owners, the good news is that there are plenty of steps you can take to eliminate this problem or at least make it more convenient for you to clean.

See also:


Featured Image Credit: Pickless, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets