My cat scratches the floor before drinking water: some cats have the habit of scratching the floor before drinking or even before eating. Why is that?

Cats scratch the floor before drinking water because they want to locate where the water actually is since their closed-up vision is not that good, or they want to tell you that the water bowl is not cleaned, or they try to leave their scent near it.

Let’s explore the various possibilities.

My cat scratches the floor before drinking water - Pinterest Pin


Cats are, for sure, a constant question mark. Every day they find a way to surprise us. We have to add to the list the habit of scratching the floor around the water bowl.

Let’s explore why my cat scratches the floor before drinking water:


Cats do not do well with objects very close to their face. If you have ever played with your cat, you know that he may seem not to see it if you put the toy very close to the face.

Nearsighted, but not close-sighted. Because their eyes are so large, cats can’t focus on anything less than a foot in front of them — but their whiskers can swing forward to feel what they can’t clearly see.


This means that some cats may way to test the field with their paws and when they are sure where the water actually is, start drinking. Things placed under the cat’s chin may not be so easy for him to spot; scratching around the water bowl can give them the absolute certainty that there is no water, and they will not get wet if they come close.


Some cats breeds were used to dig to find water. This could have gone on for a long time, generation after generation, mainly if cats lived in places where water was underground. Some cats have it in their DNA to dig before drinking, more appropriately, dig to find water, and then drink.

This is an explanation for my cat scratches the floor before drinking water and so other cats too. There isn’t conclusive evidence of this belief. However, I thought it was worth mentioning.


Cats are famous for being picky about cleaned environments; they do not like their litter box dirty or their food bowl dirty. My cat is a perfect example of this that you believe it or not. If I do not clean his food bowl before I put new food, he will not eat it.

I have to feed him. Then, once he has eaten, I have to clean to bowl each time for the next meal. I always thought that only my cat was a snob, but it turns out that cats are like this: crazy about cleaning.

The same goes for the water bowl; if I do not change the water and clean the bowl every day, he will not drink.

Therefore, when my cat scratches the floor before drinking water, it means that he tries to cover the water’s foul smell, trying to clean it. Therefore, it is a signal for you to start changing the water and clean it.


Some cats do not like the water bowl being near the food bowl. In fact, they may not drink water in such a case and thus scratch around. In addition, the food smell can get too strong, and they may consider the water contaminated. Therefore, it is a better idea to separate the water bowl and the food bowl.

Sometimes cats scratch around the food bowl in an attempt to bury the food for various reasons; either they do not like the food, or they are trying to bury it to come back and find it later. In their minds, they are preserving food for when they need it.

My cat scratches the floor before drinking water and eating dry food mainly. My younger cat was scratching around the food bowl all the time, creating a mess, and since the water bowl was nearby, she would hit it and throw water and food all over the place. I always thought she was trying to bury the food since she was digging on the floor exactly as she was doing with the litter box.

But she would not do it if the dry food was far away from the wet food. In other words, she would dig mainly the dry food throwing it all over the floor. So I am not sure that she had a problem necessarily with the water bowl.


Some cats paw into the water to make sure leaves and other elements are out of the way before they drink; scratching around the water bowl can be an instinct to clean the water.


Cats used to scratch surfaces to leave their scent and mark their territory. For example, my cat scratches the floor before drinking water because he wants to mark territory. Cats do this with furniture and other objects in the house. Similarly, they may want to keep the food and water environment marked as their territory.


Here are some related questions for “Why does my cat scratches the floor before drinking water?”:

  • Why do cats scratch the floor before eating?

Cats scratch the floor before eating, mainly for a territorial reason. They are trying to place their own scent in the area and remove one of the other animals. Some cats scratch the floor after eating for similar reasons, but they may want to bury their food.

The marking is, so they remember where the food is later on.

  • Why does my cat shake her paw when she drinks water?

If cats find something unpleasant or get wet, they may try to shake it off by shaking their paws. Although, they rarely have a medical condition if they keep doing it often. If you observe that it becomes suspicious, don’t hesitate to ask the vet.

  • Why does my cat put his paw in the water when he drinks?

Sometimes, due to the closeness of the water and the fact that cats can’t see what is under their chin, they may want to find out where the water is; therefore, they stick their paws into the water to figure out where the water is.

Cats typically use their whiskers to sense the water below them. However, if the water bowl is too small, cats can’t fit their whiskers into it, and therefore they can’t do their job. In this case, they have to use their paws.

Another reason for cats putting their paws into the water is that they are playing with it. They may like to see the water moving and play with it. You can notice better cats playing mood around water if you get a water fountain for them.

They usually like to paw the falling water and play with it, and finally, they end up drinking it.

Some other cats used to put their paw into the water, getting it wet, and then lick their paws; in other words, they drink by licking their paws after the paw has been in the water. They do this because they do not trust to lower their guard and start drinking, they may be attacked, so they want to keep alert to what is happening around them.

  • Why do my cats knock over their water bowl?

Typically, they try to play with it, and in their play, they knock the water bowl. However, they may not like the water bowl; therefore, they keep knocking it out.

I usually have glass water bowls. They are a bit heavier than the plastic ones, and also better for their health. I also use water fountains since my cat stopped knocking the water bowl around when I did that.

  • Do cats like ice in their water?

It depends on the cat; some cats like the water a bit colder, some drink only from a water fountain, others do not mind any water. For example, my cat gets water from water bottles I keep in the fridge in summer and winter. I use water bottles at an average temperature.


My cat scratches the floor before drinking water and other weird habits for the above reasons. I hope I was able to shed some light as to why he does it. If you want to add anything, leave it in the comments below.

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