Why Do Cats Put Toys In Water?

Why Do Cats Put Toys In Water

Does your cat like to put its toys in her water bowl? This behavior is quite common and cats usually do this during night time while everyone else is asleep or when they are about to eat their meal or drink water. 

Why do cats put toys in water?

Here are the most common reasons why cats put their toys in water:

1. They may be exhibiting a hoarding behavior that is instinctive by nature.

Cats tend to collect and gather things like their toys, pens, socks or your son’s toys. They may also drop or pile their toys into their food or water bowl. Cat experts believe this is instinctive among felines which are observed to bring toys to the water bowl much the same way that a mama cat will return wandering kittens back to the nest. 

This collecting and gathering behavior may also be reminiscent of a wild mama cat’s behavior to bring both dead and live prey to the nest as her way of introducing new foods to the young and to teach them how to kill and hunt in a safe environment. Mama cats will also gather what they consider as their young and deliver it to the place of food. Also, cats are observed to deposit toys in the area where they eat or drink water since it is where they feel safe and at ease. 

2. They may be hiding or nesting their “prey”. 

This behavior is also instinctive among felines even though they are already domesticated. Their ancestors bring their captured prey to their nest for safekeeping and to hide it from enemies and predators. Similarly, domesticated cats will hunt “prey” found in the home which is usually their toys and bring it back to their nest, their eating and drinking area, since it is the safest part of their territory.

3. They may be doing it to remove their prey’s “smell”. 

Just like with the earlier theories, cats are believed to put toys in water to remove its “smell” as part of an ingrained instinct. Their ancestors usually drop their prey in the water to wash off its scent so that it will not attract other predators. By doing so, they will not lose their meal and avoid becoming another predator’s meal. 

4. They may be doing it to catch your attention. 

This unusual behavior among cats is said to be a learned pattern according to Dennis Turner, author of “The Domestic Cat” and a domestic cat-human interactions expert. He states that cats yearn for human attention regardless if it is positive such as being praised or negative such as when they are scolded for misbehaving or knocking things around the home. Most probably, cats may have found your response or reaction to their behavior of dropping or putting toys in water as rewarding and as a result, they may continuously do it. 

5. They may be teaching you the rudiments of hunting. 

As mentioned in the first theory, mama cats collect and place their prey in the water to teach their young how to hunt. Domesticated and modern cats may also instinctively do it to persuade you to learn how to hunt and provide hunting skills such as “drowning the prey”. Cats bring and put toys in the water bowl to teach and show off their hunting skills as instincts would dictate them.

6. They may just be doing it for fun

Cats are naughty explorers and they love to pounce and play with things in the water despite their aversion to being wet.  They may be putting their toys in water as part of a playful game just for fun.  It may also be their way of reliving that “feel good” experience that they associate their feeding area for. Felines may be putting toys in her water bowl because it is a happy place for her and an area that makes her feel good and happy.

Other weird behavior of cats

Aside from putting toys in the water, cats are also known to exhibit other weird behavior. These are just some of them:

  • bumping their head to your head
  • bouncing off the walls 
  • bringing gifts like toys, socks or dead prey like rats and birds
  • chewing things like plastic bags and wool blankets 
  • napping in tight and enclosed spaces like drawers, bags, cardboard boxes and bathroom cabinets
  • kneading or making biscuits 
  • nibbling on plants 
  • knocking or pushing things
  • sleeping between your legs, on laptops or at the edge of your bed


Despite being domesticated, cats still retain the instincts that their ancestors manifest. They may be putting toys in water as a reflection of deeply-rooted instincts like collecting, hiding  and nesting their prey. Felines may also be doing it to catch your attention and to relieve the happy feeling associated with their feeding and drinking area.

Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi