Why Do Cats Put Food In Their Water Bowl? (And How To Stop Them!)

Why do cats put food in their water bowl?

Cats will often store food, toys, and/or other items in their water bowl due to territorial reasons. Remember, an indoor cat doesn’t have specific spots to store items, which is why the water bowl is often used as an alternative.

This type of behavior doesn’t only involve water bowls and may include spots such as the cat’s bed or playpen too.

It’s recommended to keep an eye out when it starts impacting the cat’s eating and/or drinking habits, which can happen when the water bowl is used to store items!

The signs can include:

  • Putting Toys into the Water
  • Eating Half of Their Food
  • Hunting Animals and Putting Them in the Water Bowl

If you are asking, “Why do cats put food in their water bowl?” it’s clearly becoming a problem that needs to be resolved.

You can’t let this continue because the cat may refuse to drink water.

There has to be a way to regulate the cat’s behavior, which is why you have to start initiating changes as soon as possible. If you act now, it’s possible to improve the cat’s approach to storing its collectibles whether it’s a toy or food.

This guide will help answer the question “Why do cats put food in their water bowl?” along with what to do about it next.

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Tips To Follow If Cat Puts Food in the Water Bowl

Tip #1 – Block the Water Bowl During Feedings

The first thing you have to do is stop the cat from getting to the water bowl during feedings.

Let’s assume you have filled the food bowl with cat food. At this point, you should walk over and move the water bowl and/or set up a pet gate so the cat can’t get to it.

This will make it difficult to access and that alone is going to make the cat think twice about what’s it doing.

The benefits include:

  • Limits Access to the Water Bowl
  • Gets the Cat to Eat First
  • Reduces the Attraction of the Water Bowl as a Storage Spot

The average cat is going to choose the water bowl because it’s always accessible. This makes it a safe spot for the cat to store food and/or anything else it deems valuable.

By restricting access to the water bowl, you are going to take away this option.

Of course, you should pay attention to what the cat does next. It may try to place the food in other parts of the house, which will shed light on what needs to be blocked next. If possible, you should also block where the cat eats, so it can’t get out when it starts eating.

Why do cats put food in their water bowl

Tip #2 – Set Up a Water Fountain

Running water is often noted as a great way to stop this type of behavior.

If you are asking, “Why do cats put food in their water bowl?” it’s time to look at this as a viable solution. In essence, you are going to set up a water fountain because it’s going to have running water.

The cat is going to assume the running water isn’t safe for its food. This is a natural instinct that’s going to kick in.

Running water is often deemed to be unsafe for storing items in the wild, which is what the cat is going to associate with a water fountain at home.

A good example of this is when cats are in the wild and they don’t store items close to the river.

Moving water isn’t ideal for storing important items because wildlife is present and the cat may “lose” it’s items with the water’s flow.

While this won’t happen with a water fountain at home for cats, it’s still about recreating that organic fear a cat would have.

Tip #3 – Increase the Feedings

If you are asking, “Why do cats put food in their water bowl?” it might be time to think about how you are feeding the cat.

There might be a reason it’s behaving in this manner!

A cat that doesn’t get enough food during the day may start hoarding whatever you put in the food bowl. This is a bad sight and it might be time to increase the feedings, so your cat doesn’t have to store food as a safety net.

Some cats will store food because they are not getting enough and want to save some for later. It’s best to increase the feedings in these situations.

If possible, pay attention to your cat’s weight.

This can often tell you whether or not this theory is correct. There are times when a cat simply doesn’t eat even if you put out enough food, but there are others that are going to store food in their water bowl because the feedings aren’t enough.

If so, you should take the time to increase the feedings slowly.

Why do cats put food in their water bowl

Tip #4 – Set Up Multiple Water Bowls

This is another option that is often used in the short-term to make sure the cat is hydrated.

It’s not recommended to use it in the long-term because the cat may use one bowl as a storage space and another to stay hydrated!

Yes, cats can be that clever!

This is why it’s good for the short-term, but it’s best to follow the other tips listed above for a long-term solution.

Final Thoughts

Why do cats put food in their water bowl?

It comes down to hoarding and wanting to stay safe as it would in the wild. Remember, cats in the wild aren’t going to have a lot of food to eat, so they naturally keep some for later.

These leftovers are great in the wild, but leave quite the stench when put into a water bowl at home!

Make sure to regulate this behavior before it gets out of control.

Here are a few articles to help with cats at home – reasons why cat is upset when you leave the room, cat refuses to eat wet food, cat doesn’t eat after new cat came home, and the right amount of food for cats.