CattyCorner: Why Cats Drown Toys In Water Bowls

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on August 6, 2020

Greetings, my pawsome human minions and cat cohorts.

My mom enjoys Instagram and she often shows me different cats she finds on there. One cat she recently pointed out was a kitty who enjoyed drowning things in her water dish. Mom thought this so funny, she went searching for more evidence of cats drowning their toys in the water bowl and she certainly found more cat toys dropped in water.

Through her laughter, she asked, “Forrest, why do cats drown toys in their water bowls?”

Turns out, she’d found her proof, but not the answer as to why cats behave in a way so seemingly odd.

@catsoncatnipco/Instagram via u/missmadimissmadi

Since this topic obviously vexes humans, me being the helpful cat I am, I thought I’d shed some light-colored fur on this strange behavior.

You’re welcome.

Drowning Toys Just Feels Natural

First, let me say, some of us felines are weirdies. I mean this in the best possible way. After all, normal is boring and cats are anything but normal or boring. We are grand beings with a connection to the unseen and sometimes that just makes us seem a little odd.

drown toys water bowl

Saving it for later in a safe spot.

That said, much of what we do comes from our design as natural predators. Cats view toys as real-life prey in need of catching. Instinct tells us to hide our hunted treasures from anybody who might want to steal them. So, before cats and humans co-existed, we would hide our prey in our nests, away from prying noses.

The nests cats know today are different than our wild safe spaces of old. Many of us now consider our food and water dish as our nests, meaning some cats dunk their toys to save safely save them until later.

drowning toys water

Washing away the stink.

We may be wild animals, but cats aren’t uncouth creatures, like some of our housemates (ahem, dogs). Meat smells good, but old meat can stink. While we’re discussing toys in this case, our instincts still tell us to keep it clean. Throwing prey in water cleanses away unbecoming aromas.

drowning toys water bowl

Making sure the toy isn’t playing opossum.

Ok, I know your cat is your precious little snugglebum angel, but let’s be honest a second, shall we? Cats are purrfect predators. For meowing out loud, look at us! Fangs, claws, stealth, and grace…rodents and birds, be they felt or feathers, would be wise to fear us.

Once a cat catches their food, sometimes it likes to play dead in order to fool us and make an escape. But a lizard can’t run when it’s been drowned, can it?


There you have it. Cats drown toys in the water bowl because our hunter instincts demand it of us. Speaking of demands, my belly demands a snack.

Your angel of destruction is probably ready for one too, so don’t forget to feed the cat.

Feature Image: @hankthetankgoodman/Instagram & @hankthetankgoodman/Instagram

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