My Maine Coon digs around his water dish before drinking. Is this something that's common with Maine Coons?

Why does he do this?

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    Do you have any reference or evidence that suggests that Maine Coon "dig around their water"? I've never seen mine do that nor his "brothers".
    – Cedric H.
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 12:53
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    Mine doesn't either, but my tabby does. I think it's more of a think with certain cats rather than maine coons. This isn't a duplicate but there might be some insight here: pets.stackexchange.com/questions/173/…
    – Spidercat
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 13:24
  • I've said 'all', because all Maine Coons that I saw was done such things. And it was only Maine Coons. It looks like first 3 second of this video: youtube.com/watch?v=EP7h2KBtVd8
    – Dracontis
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 15:48
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    Your link to another question and edit is wrong, because I saw several Maine Coons, doing such things, and they do not wash their paws. They're digging. Also, here is question about Maine Coon that doesn't gives clear answer: mainecoonforum.org/maine-coon-q/890-digging-water.html
    – Dracontis
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 15:51
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    One more video, that shows what I've asked: youtube.com/watch?v=2ypUW-ODGHs
    – Dracontis
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 15:58

2 Answers 2


Since we can't know what moves inside a cat's head, it will all be a theory only.

And theories there is, several of them. Actually the proper word should be 'speculation'. I believe there is no right answer to this question, and quite possibly there isn't ONE correct explanation either. However, let's try a few:

  • A cat has its ancestry in the wild cats who needed to find their drinks from little pools of water covered with fallen leaves and whatnot. Clearing the water of debris gives the cat a water surface that is open to drink from. This would be a case of cat's instincts and there's nothing we can do about it.

  • A water bowl at home should have clean clear water in it. Finding the actual surface of the still standing water is a challenge best defeated by using a paw to find the plane where air and water meet. One could speculate that it is undesirable to dip your nose (rhinarium) into water, so the exact level of water surface is important to find. Some cats even check for ground level first, so scraping around the water bowl is needed to measure the distance between ground and water surface. Avoid water bowls made of glass or polished metal in order to help the cat see where water surface is.

  • Digging in the water could indicate a smell in the water or bowl. Chlorine or iron rust can give normal tap water a strong smell that we humans might notice or not. It is also quite possible that the bowl itself smells if washed with strong dish soap without proper thorough rinsing. Surprise; clear clean bottled water sold at grocery shops might have a smell in it too, only different from your tap water.

  • If water is clean and the bowl does not smell, then there just might be a smell under the water bowl. Most of us keep a water bowl in the same spot all the time. Perhaps you don't see or smell anything there, but the floor under the bowl could be quite a mess. Check with a lamp that gives only UV-light.

  • When wild animals go to drink at a watering hole, they spend time first checking that the surrounding area is clear of any dangers. Drinking in the wild can be dangerous. A cat "digging" around its water bowl could indicate that the cat is not happy with the location of the bowl. Try moving the bowl to a new spot.

An internet search around the subject seems to support the thought that Maine coon cats really are prone to digging in and around their water bowl, but this breed is by no means the only one doing it, and also not all cats of this breed do it. I have one Maine coon too, and she does not fuss with water in any way.

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    I forgot one: because it's fun! ;) Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 12:24
  • There are also cats who insist upon standing in the water while drinking. I file this under "it makes sense to them, and it's harmless, and it's cute."
    – keshlam
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 13:43

I have one Maine Coon but she does not do this behavior. I do have a shorthair black female polydactyl who does. Its a habit that isn't ultra common but isn't terribly rare either. Another black shorthair I had also did it. I don't think it is breed or coat specific. It is just an example of play and / or the way some cats like to drink. It's like pawing at food, dunking objects into the water dish... some cats like to do this but most don't do it.

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