Why Do Cats Not Like Water?

Cats are fascinating animals. You may see them dipping a paw into their water bowl, or happily lapping away at a running faucet in the kitchen sink.

But the minute you try to give them a bath, your cat transforms into a hissing demon. Cat owners around the world have puzzled over this phenomenon for decades.

Felines spend most of their time grooming themselves, so why do they have an aversion to water?

Today, we’re going to cover this topic in more detail.

We’re going to look at 6 of the most common reasons as to why cats don’t have an affinity for water, as well as how you can tackle this to keep your cat clean and happy.

So let’s take a look at why certain cat breeds don’t like large bodies of water!

They Don’t Like How It Feels

The most obvious thing to note is that your cat’s fur isn’t as waterproof as those of dogs.

So each time your cat gets their fur wet, it becomes heavy, and starts to weigh them down.

Rather than flow effortlessly off your cat, the water will soak into that fur, and make them terribly cold.

So it’s fair to say that any exposure to water isn’t an enjoyable experience for your feline.

When your cat is absolutely soaked, this heavy fur will of course affect their agility.

They won’t be able to leap around as agile as they normally would if their fur was lovely and dry.

This wet fur also makes it all too easy for your pet to get cold very quickly. It can take a long time to dry out as well, which ultimately makes for a very miserable kitty.

Cats Are Self-Cleaning

Another factor to consider is that your cat doesn’t need to be bathed like your dog might if they roll in something dirty.

Cats are self-cleaning animals, and spend most of their time grooming. They have evolved to not need to be exposed to bodies of water.

If you attempt to give your cat a bath, they will likely see it as you creating more work for them.

They won’t like the smells from the water itself, and will then groom themselves afterwards to keep themselves clean.

Evolved From Water Averse Ancestors

It is thought that cats could possibly not like water because of evolution.

The domestic cat has evolved from ancestors that used to live in dry, arid climates, where there wouldn’t have been large bodies of water for them to bathe in.

So from this ancient breed, the common domestic cat has learned to cope without water, and instead only needs a bowl of water for hydration purposes.

They simply have no need to dip themselves into water as larger cats such as tigers tend to do.

Cats Like To Stay In Control

There’s a big difference between your cat lapping at a running faucet and refusing to go for a bath in a larger body of water.

With the smaller amounts of running water, your cat can stay in control.

With larger bodies of water, this makes things a little more tricky. It can make your cat feel out of control, which is a sensation that they don’t like at all.

This can make them panic and become terrified, so it’s easy to see why they wouldn’t want to be immersed in the water.

They Have Past Negative Experiences

Similar to our point above about larger bodies of water making your cat panic and feel out of control, other displays of terror could be down to previous negative experiences.

If your cat has ever been caught out in the rain all night and been soaked through, or ever fell in a larger body of water without wanting to, this can traumatize your poor cat.

So it’s hardly a surprise that they wouldn’t want to repeat those experiences!

They Don’t Like The Chemical Aroma

While we might not be able to scent anything on water, your cat has a stronger sense of smell than us humans.

They are able to smell the chemicals in water, which are of course unpleasant for their delicate noses. So it’s only natural they want to avoid this unpleasant aroma.

If your cat was immersed in the water, this chemical smell would then replace the natural pheromones that they have spent ages trying to wash onto their fur with their tongue.

So if you notice your cat immediately start to groom themselves when you get them out of the water, it will be because they are trying to rid their fur of this chemical smell.

Some Cats Do Like Water

You may be intrigued to learn that there are actually some domestic cat breeds that do actually like being immersed in water, and will enjoy the odd swim or two!

These breeds often have a waterproof fur, which makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable for them.

The most common breeds to enjoy spending time in and around water are the Turkish Van, the Maine Coone, the Bengal, and the Abbyssinian.

Can You Get A Cat To Like Water?

The best way to get your cat to like water is to gradually acclimatize them to this from a very young age.

If you were to expose your cat to water when they are a kitten, so that they can get used to this over time.

It will be very important to note what their body language is like, as you shouldn’t force your cat to go through with bath time if they are really uncomfortable and clearly afraid of the water.

If you ever do have to give your cat a bath, it will be essential to only have a small amount of water in the bathtub, and to use a cup to slowly bathe your cat.

Make sure to have a fluffy towel to hand afterwards so that you can dry them off, and give them plenty of treats afterwards to keep them happy.

In Summary

So there you have it! You now know of several reasons as to why cats don’t like water.

Even though they may occasionally enjoy lapping at the fresh water you put in their bowl, there’s a distinct difference between a small amount of water and bath time.

There are many reasons that could explain why cats don’t like water.

These are mostly down to the fact that your cat’s fur isn’t waterproof, and tends to soak up the water that they are exposed to.

This makes their fur super heavy, and makes it easier for them to get uncomfortably cold. It also takes forever to dry out afterward.

Other reasons as to why your cat doesn’t like water could be down to the fact they can smell the chemicals from tap water.

They won’t want this scent of chemicals on their fur, as it will completely replace their own pheromones which they have on their fur.

It is thought that other reasons cats hate water could be down to the fact that they are descended from cats that hail from arid desert climates, they may have had several negative experiences surrounding water in the past, or that they like to stay in control with smaller streams of water.

To best acclimatize your cat to larger bodies of water, you will be better off exposing them to this as a kitten, and focusing on making it a calm and positive experience for them.

Courtney Trent
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