You can lead a cat to water...
October 9, 2008 10:53 AM   Subscribe

I have two energetic one-year-old cats who love to knock over their water dish. I've tried several different types (at first they had a standard ceramic dish, into which they'd drop their stuffed toys until the toys absorbed all of the water (and got extremely gross), so I switched to a water-cooler-style dish, with a jug on top that fills to a dish in the bottom. That worked for a few weeks, but now the just play with it until it tips over, leaving my rug wet and them thirsty. What can I do to keep them from doing this? Is there a better (but still inexpensive) cat-watering system?
posted by odayoday to Pets & Animals (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My cat did this. Until I put his waterbowl inside a larger shallow bowl. Then it wasn't any fun, and the water never spilled anywhere.
posted by wayward vagabond at 11:07 AM on October 9, 2008

Ooops, hit post too soon. I meant to say, for example inside a large heavy casserole dish. No more spills, and too heavy to tip.
posted by wayward vagabond at 11:08 AM on October 9, 2008

Pointycat loves to play in the water and splash it around. Like you, I tried lots of vessels (including a fountain which he played in but won't drink from).
Now he has two drinkining options that seem to work:
(1) a bowl on a placemat which soaks up spills and knock overs on the kitchen floor. It also is a back up for when he rarely knocks over (2) his preferred vessel: a 5 inch high, wide mouthed plastic cup (cost: $1.19 at Kroger). It sits in the bathtub over the drain hole where he can tip, splash and drink to his heart's content.
I take it out when I shower. Then I put it back and he generally comes in and laps up all the droplets in the tub which are infinitely more preferable to water-in-an-appropraite-vessel water.
posted by pointystick at 11:10 AM on October 9, 2008

We use a big stainless steel dog bowl that's too wide for them to tip over.
posted by desjardins at 11:19 AM on October 9, 2008

We used to use one of those water cooler type bowl gizmos, and our cats would knock it over too. We ended up using a cheapo modular shelf that we had hanging around to keep them from tipping it over.

It basically looked like:
|               |
|               |
| [Cooler here] |
It was ghetto, but it worked. Then we started using a bowl.
posted by o0dano0o at 11:24 AM on October 9, 2008

Another vote for putting the water bowl in the sink or shower. As soon as you make the activity "approved", they will lose interest. Water in the shower, where water belongs? Kitty not interested. Water bowl on the floor, where it will make a mess? Kitty nirvana.

You might want to mention the water play at your next vet appointment. It's possible they are spending so much time playing with their water that they are not drinking enough of it. One of the signs that my cat has a tendency toward urinary obstructions was that he played with water instead of drinking it. (However, the bigger clue was his incessant pissing all over the house, so if this isn't happening, I wouldn't worry. But mention it to your vet the next time you go for a routine visit, just to be on the safe side.)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:26 AM on October 9, 2008

You know those things hamsters drink from? They make them bigger for cats.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 11:38 AM on October 9, 2008

Response by poster: My apartment has only one shower and I'd rather not encourage the boys to play in it if at all possible. Also, as I said, when they had a regular open dish they consistently threw their toys in it, so I don't know if that's the better option. They DID have water left over to drink at that point, and didn't necessarily get it all over the carpet, but having wet, gross toys around all the time got a little old. So far, I think I might try the jug-inside-the-larger-ceramic-dish option, but I'd still love to hear other suggestions.

Also, thanks for the heads-up about possible health issues, but I refill the dish often enough when they've knocked it over (several times a day) that they definitely get water. I think they just like to
posted by odayoday at 11:49 AM on October 9, 2008

Response by poster: play around. (Sorry, hit post too soon)
posted by odayoday at 11:50 AM on October 9, 2008

Get a bowl in the classic bowl shape, e.g. \__/ and countersink it into something that's either too heavy or too large to tip over (a shallow cardboard box works fine, or an old document box file). It's just a matter of cutting an appropriately sized hole.
posted by mandal at 11:52 AM on October 9, 2008

Make or buy a Velcro strap that encircles the jug and is anchored to the wall. A single drywall screw behind the jug won't show.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:55 AM on October 9, 2008

My cat was an inveterate food- and water-spiller until I got her two "volcano" style dishes (like these.) The flared base makes it nice & hard to tip over.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:56 AM on October 9, 2008

Similiar to Fuzzy Skinner's idea but with out drilling a hole in the wall is to thread a piece of round bar (say a 3/8ths redi-rod or wood dowel) thru the bottom of the jug holder side to side. There is probably space right at the back where you could just drill two holes, one on each side, and run the rod thru without hitting anything holding water. Then use a couple wood balls to cap the ends thereby preventing damage to the floor and also taking up the slack needed to keep the holes whole. You can buy wood balls with holes in them to fit dowels in assorted sizes at craft stores. The rod widens the base of the dish making much more difficult to tip over.
posted by Mitheral at 1:42 PM on October 9, 2008

Sweet Jesus, my cat does the same thing -- and "waiting a year for him to calm down" doesn't work, my guy is fifteen.

He doen'st knock it over, he just drags it down the hall.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:35 PM on October 9, 2008

Our cat now refuses to drink out of a water bowl, and instead uses a bathroom sink. Of course, guests get really confused when they're asked to refill the sink after using the bathroom.

She'll push whatever's on the counter into the sink, and we leave bouncy balls in there for her as well, but she doesn't put anything else in there (which she used to do with the bowl).
posted by natabat at 2:44 PM on October 9, 2008

You might try this, the Road Refresher -- I saw it on Dragon's Den here in the UK and the demo was pretty impressive - it's designed to be spill-proof. The videos are a great demo of the product. Unfortunately it might be a little big as they only have a dog version for now, and it will be $30 to ship to the US.
posted by ukdanae at 3:14 PM on October 9, 2008

What about putting a 5-10 pound disc weight on top of the kitty cooler? Might be too heavy to tip then...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 3:23 PM on October 9, 2008

We had this exact problem--plus the tank-based water dish we bought was prone to nasty algae bloom. The Drinkwell Pet Fountain was the solution. It is too expensive for what it is, and slightly ridiculous--do your cats need running, filtered water? Are you really the sort of person who spends a chunk of change on a fountain for your cats? But... no more goop and no more knocked-over water tanks. (Note--we taped the top of it shut to stop our cats from knocking that off.)
posted by ftrain at 5:22 PM on October 9, 2008

I have a Drinkwell too. And it did solve the problem of dumping the water dish over. But now the Two Kitties Who Share One Brain like to sit and stare at the running water, and then flick their paws through it. Once in a while they will bring over a toy to dunk. I have this thing on an appliance timer, set to go off every couple of hours. Every time it turns on, it is like the most amazing thing in the feline universe has happened [again!], and they run over to sit and stare at it and play in it again.

I traded a big water puddle on the floor for a series of smaller water streaks on my wall and all over the table where I keep the fountain (away from the dogs who would simply bite it in half.) Sigh.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:52 PM on October 9, 2008

Honestly? I found that if I didn't constantly refill the bowl after they knocked it over they got thirsty enough and learned (but then again, they also drink out of the sink faucet -- and I've given up the ghost on that fight).
posted by aclevername at 9:57 PM on October 9, 2008

I'm assuming that the toys just get whizzed around the room til they end up in the water... and if so, what if you somehow covered & sheltered the water bowl? Maybe buy a little hutch-shaped object (something like a covered cat litterbox, even a cardboard box with a hole cut in the side) and put the water inside? It would prevent all accidental soakings.

Of course maybe the soaking is deliberate, in which case maybe the soft toys should be saved for human-supervised playtime, and only the nonabsorbent plastic & rubber toys should stay out all day.

But more importantly, if your cats are dipping the toys in water on purpose, might they actually be raccoons?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:17 PM on October 10, 2008

Oh, or put the bowl up on a counter or table. They're not gonna carry a toy up onto a table to dunk it in a water dish. Right? Listen, if they do that, please consider even more seriously the possibility that you may have accidentally adopted a pair of raccoons. Maybe monkeys.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:20 PM on October 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

What about putting a 5-10 pound disc weight on top of the kitty cooler? Might be too heavy to tip then...

Go to your local pet store and look in the Cat Flattening Supplies aisle.

Ya, not a good idea.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 2:22 PM on October 10, 2008

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