Why does my cat dunk his toy in the water bowl?
Has your cat ever dropped his favorite catnip mouse or rubber fetching ball in his water bowl? Or, have you gone to re-fill her food bowl, only to find a special toy right in the middle?
Just remember that everything your cat does is a result of her instinctual hunting instinct.
It just might be that your cat is trying to find a “safe” place for her favorite things. It often happens that the toy that ends up in the water or food bowl is often a toy that has recently been enjoyed by your cat. In the wild, cats often take their prey back to their “nest” area, and hide it from predators. Indoor cats don’t really have a “nest” per se, so they often consider their food and water dishes as the “safest” areas within their “territory.”
It can also mean that she wants you to find it, because many think the cat is trying to train the human to hunt, as it would train its kittens, by bringing little meals to entice the kitten to start hunting. That’s what the mama cat in the wild does with her kittens; she brings the prey back to them to try to train them. That’s what your cat might be doing with you, too.
Cats are hunters by nature and play serves solely for honing hunting skills. More recent research points to play as rewarding in and of itself, as an emotional and fun release.
Since the cat is playing by dunking the toy, she is bringing the “hunting bounty” (toy ) to a food (drinking) bowl, it appears she does associate it with the food aspect. Food, of course, must have the ultimate value especially for a feral or stray cat who may have gone hungry in the past.
Some cats drop objects, like insects, bugs, toys, etc. in the water bowl, and then “fish” for it. Fishing behavior is a very typical cat play behavior, reminiscent of their wild ancestors.