Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor Before Drinking Water?

Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor Before Drinking Water

Have you noticed your cat acting queerly before drinking water from her water bowl? Many cats tend to scratch the floor before drinking water just as they would paw the ground before lying down. Read on for a detailed discussion on why cats behave this way.

Why does my cat scratch the floor before drinking water?

Your cat scratches the floor before drinking water because of the following reasons:

1. It is instinctive behavior. 

Cats tend to paw or scratch the sides of a litter box to “bury” their waste. First-time cat owners are perplexed why their cats act like this. The reason they do that is that it is an instinctive behavior to “bury” their waste, so they scratch on the wall of the litter box. 

Similarly, it is instinctive among cats to scratch, paw, and dig to look for food and water. Domesticated cats may paw or scratch the floor near the water bowl because it is the closest thing to doing this in the wild. 

2. She is unhappy or discontented with the water. 

Cats tend to bury things just as they would bury their waste to express their distaste, disgust, or unhappiness with it. Your cat could be scratching the floor before drinking water because she feels the same way about the taste of the water. What you can do is to check the water in her water bowl to make sure that it is clean. You should also make sure that the location of the water is a good distance from the food bowl since cats do not like their water beside their food station. 

3. It may just be out of curiosity. 

Your cat could be scratching the floor before drinking water because it is curious about the water or the water bowl.  Her interest may be piqued by the clarity of the water, how it moves when she tries to tip the bowl over, or if the bowl is clear. Thus, she may scratch as a way to investigate the water bowl itself. 

Cats may also scratch the floor for pleasure or as a way to express insecurity.  It is their way to keep an eye out for an easy escape, an instinct derived from their wild ancestors.  However, it could also mean a cat is stressed due to changes at home, such as home remodeling or the addition of a new family member. 

How can you stop your cat’s behavior of scratching the floor before drinking water?

Here are some ideas that you can try to curb or control your cat’s scratching behaviors:

  • Get your cat’s attention or distract her with a toy once she starts to scratch or paw the floor. 
  • Place your cat’s water bowl on a hard surface away from objects to prevent her from dragging and covering the bowl
  • Stand near or stay with your cat as she drinks water. 
  • Do not punish or scold your cat since it is instinctive behavior.

Some cat owners may find the behavior harmless and adorable. However, it can become an excessive habit and mess up your cat’s drinking area. Since cats scratch the floor using their claws, it could damage your carpet or floor.

This behavior cannot be completely controlled because it is instinctive. What you can do is check and monitor your cat and apply the above-mentioned measures.

Why does my cat scratch the floor before eating?

Your cat is scratching the floor before eating to stay safe and to hide the remnants of her presence from other predators.  She may also do it to bury her food since it is too much for her and she wants to save it for later. 

Why does my cat randomly scratch the floor?

Cats may randomly scratch the floor to mark their territory by leaving a visual mark or a scent since they have scent glands on their paws.  They may also randomly scratch to stretch their bodies and flex their feet and claws. 


Cats are adorable creatures, but they do tend to exhibit queer behavior, such as scratching the floor before drinking water. They could be behaving like this because they are discontented with the water, or just because it is instinctive. However, they may also do it out of curiosity, for pleasure, or because they are stressed. 

Image: istockphoto.com / Lightspruch