Why Do Cats Put Toys in Water?

|5 min read

Have you ever wondered why your cat sometimes puts their toys in their water bowl?

It seems strange, but it is a common behavior seen in cats, but there are reasons behind this behavior. In today's post, we'll explore why your pet might be doing this.

We'll look at their wild instincts and try to understand what might happen in their minds. So, let's put our curious hats on and start hunting to find out why our feline friends enjoy drowning their favorite toys in the water bowl.

Why Do Cats Drown Their Toys?

There are several theories on why cats drown their toys in the water. Let's look at those well-known theories:

  1. For fun and play

    Cats often like playing with water, and one reason why many cats often put their toys in the water is that some cats just enjoy it. When they put their toys in water, some cats even lick the water off their paws because it feels cool and refreshing.

    Water is important for their survival, and although people think cats don't particularly like water, some wild cats, like Tigers and Fishing Cats, love it. This shows that cats can have different feelings about water, and not all avoid it.

  2. Cleanliness

    People believe that cats dropping their toys in water taps their hunting instinct. Common theories say that cats like to drown their prey in water just to clean it.

    Some think house cats continually drop toys in water to mimic predators drowning prey, while others believe it's simply a way for cats to clean their toys. Both ideas seem plausible.

    This cat behavior may be passed down from their ancestor cats, who drowned prey in water as a method of catching it. Alternatively, it may simply be a feline way of keeping their prey tidy and removing the dead animal's scent.

  3. Saving for later

    Cats might hide their toys in food and water dishes because they consider these spaces safe places where they regularly receive meals. If a cat views their beloved fuzzy mouse toy or other cat toys as real prey, their ancient instinct could make them place it in the designated food area.

    This behavior may allow them to safely store their prey for later enjoyment. This helps them connect their instinctual hunting, and gathering instincts, and the familiar feeding location.

  4. Convenience

    If your cat often carries toys in its mouth, it might put them in the water because it got thirsty during playtime. Cats can drop toys into the bowl accidentally.

    The question now arises: Why does it leave it there?

    The toy gets wet, and cats don't like playing with wet things. So, it's like a kitty convenience move, quenching thirst while having fun but not enjoying a soggy toy.

    This simple act showcases how cats, in their playful behaviors, may create a scenario where they prioritize comfort and convenience for themselves.

  5. Uniqueness

    Every cat is believed to be special, and those dropping toys or hiding them in water likely have different reasons. Maybe they enjoy your funny reaction when you discover it, or it's their way of grabbing your attention.

    Cats, being clever animals, find interesting ways to communicate. So, when they drop a toy in the same water bowl, it could be their playful invitation, wanting you to join in the fun. This behavior highlights the individuality of cats, each with its distinct ways of expressing playfulness and connecting with their human companions.

  6. A reward for you

    When your indoor cat expresses gratitude, it might not involve outdoor trophies like rodents or birds. Instead, indoor kitties may offer toys as a substitute thank-you gesture.

    Bringing these gifts to their food bowls and water bowls is seen as a way of saying thank you. It's their unique way of showing appreciation and reciprocating the care you provide.

    While outdoor cats might present captured prey, indoor cats creatively use available toys, marking a special bond between you and your feline friend. So, when you find a toy in their food bowl, it's not just a playful act; it's a heartfelt gesture of gratitude from your indoor kitty or sometimes just an invitation to play fetch.

  7. Teaching instincts

    When mother cats teach their kittens to hunt, they bring prey for practice. Some suggest that when our indoor house cats mimic how early cats acted in this, it's a form of maternal behavior.

    By putting toys or leaving a toy in the water bowl or near it, where your cat knows you visit often, the cat believes it is encouraging you to join in the hunting fun. It's a way of saying, let's play and practice our hunting skills together.

    This behavior highlights the unique bond between you and your cat, as it shares a playful instinct with you, just like it would with her kittens in the wild.

  8. Forgetfulness

    Sometimes, your cat might just forget they're carrying a toy when they reach the water bowl or food bowl. They deposit it there while eating or drinking, not realizing they still have it in their mouth.

    It's a simple oversight, a little like when we forget something in our hands. Cats can get caught up in the moment, and their focus shifts to their meal or drink, leading to these forgetful moments.

    So, when you find cats putting a toy in their bowl, it could be just a cute result of their unintentional absentmindedness during mealtime excitement.

  9. Health issue

    While common theories don't often link toy-in-water behavior to health issues, it's essential to consider your cat's well-being. Health problems like thyroid issues, feline diabetes, or kidney concerns can alter a cat's relationship with water.

    Warning signs may include messy drinking, increased water consumption, splashing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and confusion.

    If your cat displays these signs, it's crucial to consult a vet promptly or take it to a cat behavior clinic.

Should You Be Worried?

Most vets and cat behaviorists don't view the habit of placing toys in water as a major concern. Still, they recommend monitoring to ensure it doesn't discourage your cat from drinking water altogether.

Keeping food and water bowls separate aligns with a cat's natural preference; in the wild, they avoid placing prey near the water bowl to maintain cleanliness.

Specialists suggest having multiple water sources, with fountains being popular, as most cats enjoy running water. To take care of the potential cleanliness issues from toys in the water, consider using non-prey-like toys in their water.

Moreover, if you're fine with your cat playing with water, placing a silicone mat under the bowl can help contain spills, making it a safe space that is easier to manage.

Final Words

So, to wrap it up, why cats put toys in water is a quirky mystery. It could be for fun, a learned pattern, or your cat simply saying thanks or inviting you to play hunt together.

Sometimes, they might just forget. While mostly harmless, it's good to watch for any health signs, especially messy drinking or changes in behavior.

Each cat is a bit different, so their reasons may vary. Understanding this peculiar habit adds another layer to our friendship with our feline friends. So, next time you find a wet toy, you know why your cat brings toys to the water bowl.

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