Why Does My Cat Scratch The Floor Before Drinking Water?

Cats possess all sorts of unusual behaviors, and it is bewildering to find an explanation of everything a cat does throughout the day.

One such occurrence that confuses nearly all the cat owners is scratching the floor just before or after drinking water.

Whenever a cat drinks water from a bowl, it paws, scratches, or kneads the area as if it is trying to bury something.

This unusual behavior is more common than it looks, and cat owners worldwide have reported this.

It is not indicative of any problem in one’s cat. This tendency to knead before drinking means that the cat shows traits of their ancestor, and they feel at home. We are going to explain why cats show this behavior in this article.

Why does my cat scratch the floor before drinking water?


Before we dive into the reasons for this weird behavior, we need to understand what exactly is floor pawing. Food pawing is an instinctive behavior observed in the cat family where they spend a great deal of time scratching the floor around the food bowl.

Sometimes, cats can even drag a piece of covering to put it on the food. We are going to discuss a few reasons why cats show this odd behavior.

  • Protecting food
  • Disposing food
  • Marking territory
  • Kneading the floor
  • Feeling insecure

Wild cats often try to bury their food inside dirt to hide it from any other enemies in the surrounding area. It reduces the smell coming from the kill and doesn’t give away the location.

If a pack has cubs in it, it will prevent any other species from getting their scent. Male non-neutered cats often spray around the house to protect the area from any other cats.

The technique of keeping your kill hidden or out of reach from other species is known as food caching. The North American bobcat shows the tendency to cover the kill with debris to hide from animals. The usual household cat scratching the floor is probably a manifestation of the same habit.

Some cats even show a tendency to hide the food they don’t like. They bury the food they dislike by digging the earth. Cats show similar behavior in the litter box, where they bury their waste inside the litter.

We can also consider this because cats sleep where they eat, which is a way of cleaning the place for them to sleep.

Although it is weird to associate these traits to house cats’ scratching behavior, it explains why cats do this naturally.

There is another interesting theory regarding the territorial tendency of cats. Cats are territorial animals, and they mark their territory by spraying at different corners of the house.

Most of the scent glands are present in their cheek area. That is why they rub their faces on everything. For a multi-cat household, cats show this tendency more.

Cat paws have a sufficient amount of scent glands too. By scratching the floor near the water bowl, the cat is probably indicating that the bowl belongs to it.

The scratching near the water bowl is probably a way of showing their contentment. It is known as kneading. Cats knead by gently interchanging their paws and rubbing it over a surface.

It is a pleasant experience for the cat, and it is equivalent to back rubs for humans. If a carpet or something made of fur covers the bowl, the cat is probably pawing the area because they are kneading for pleasure.

It can also be a way of showing insecurity. By pawing the surface, it might be keeping an eye for an easy escape if the need arises.

It can also mean that the cat is not accepting the changes in its routine. You should try to keep the schedule as it is and keep introducing new members to the cat family. It will help in mitigating the habit of scratching the floor.

Can you stop this behavior?

This behavior of scratching or pawing the floor just before or after drinking water does not have any implications. Some cat owners find it incredibly cute.

So, it is often not necessary to stop this scratching habit. However, this behavior can get excessive, and cats can mess up the area where you keep the water or food bowl.

They can damage the carpet or bring clothes or papers to cover their water bowl. When this habit becomes excessive, one can use the following methods to control it. We have curated a list of all the things you can do to stop your cat from scratching the floor.

  • Keep food or water bowl on a hard surface and away from any item, a cat can drag to cover it.
  • Keep an eye on the cat when it is eating or drinking water. Put away the bowls when they finish with it. It will make sure that the cat doesn’t do anything to hide or dispose of it.
  • Distract the cat with a toy when it starts to paw near the bowl
  • One needs to be careful with the cat regarding this behavior. If you continuously scold a cat, it can become aggressive, and it will be more difficult to control later on.
  • One should avoid keeping food in the direct eyesight of the cat as it can exacerbate the situation.

It takes years for cat owners to understand why their cats are behaving the way they are. It is puzzling when they scratch, paw, or knead the surface near the food or water bowl just before drinking from it.

It is an innate characteristic of the cat, and one cannot control this habit. When the behavior goes out of hand, one needs to keep an eye out for it and follow the steps that we have mentioned.


  1. See why does a cat scratch the wall
  2. Will your cat forgive if you hit her?

Resources & Citations:

1 ) https://www.families.com/why-cats-do-weird-things-pawing-around-water

2) http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/why-does-my-cat-paw-at-her-water-dish



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