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5 Reasons Why Cats Hate Water

Updated by Amy Granger on Jul 15, 2021

Most of the cats get scared when someone tries to bathe them with water. It might have baffled you as a pet owner, and you must have wondered why do cats hate water so much.

Not all of your feline friends have the reputation of being aquaphobic because some of them are known to enjoy being in the water. The larger breed of cats, such as tigers and the domestic cat Turkish Van, have an affinity for water, and they love to take a dip in water to cool down.

Most of the cats try to avoid water as much as possible. Being a pet owner, you might want to know the exact reason behind your cat's disliking of water. Here we have tried to gather the best possible behavioral and psychological reasons to answer your query. So, keep reading if you want to dig more about it!

cat in the water

Cats love to eat fish and drink water, but as soon as you try to shower them or swim with your feline friend, they will turn into angry creatures. Sometimes, it gets complicated to explain why cats don't like water since currently there is no perfect explanation available for it.

Animal behaviorists have tried to put some light on the causes of why do cats hate water? Some of the theories are given below:

1. Evolutionary History

According to the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences professor, Dr. John Bradshaw, domestic cats are the offspring of Arabian wild cats. The ancestors of these cats lived in a dry arid area where there were only a few water reservoirs. The cats at that time did not need to swim or submerge in water to survive, so they never learned it.

Cats always keep a keen eye on any possible danger near them so that they can flee on time. Having fur drenched in water will surely put an extra burden on their body which will restrict their speed and agility to run away from a dangerous situation. This uncomfortable status can be one of the main reasons for cats hating water.

As mentioned above, some of the cats' breed loves being in the water. They have unusual affinity for water due to their evolutionary background. The most famous example is the Turkish Van, also known as the swimming cat. It has outstanding swimming abilities and skills. Other examples of water-loving cats include Turkish Angora, Maine Coon, Bengal, and American Bobtail.

2. Sensitive to Odors

Cats' sense of smell is 14 times stronger than humans. The scent of shampoos, soaps and conditioners can irritate them and this is one of the reason they do not like taking baths.

According to some studies, cats can also detect the chemicals present in tap water that we humans cannot notice. The chemicals give off a particular smell that can turn away your kitten from taking a dip in the bathtub.

3. Less Exposure to water

Dogs can adapt to a new environment more quickly as compared to cats. If your kitten has never got in touch with water, it will be more likely to be difficult for them to accept the new change.

4. Unpleasant experience

If the cat has experienced some bad falling accident while being in the bathtub, he will be frightened to touch the water in his whole life. The first bathing experience really determines whether your cat will enjoy being in the water or not.

5. Discomfort

Cats are well known to spend hours and hours licking and grooming themselves. Being wet can be quite inconvenient for your feline fellow. It can be time-consuming for them to dry the fur again, so that's why they do not like water.

bath a cat

If you want your cat to be bathed because of medical or cleanliness reasons, you can follow the tips below to make the process be more fun:

  • Collect all cat-friendly products such as shampoos and conditioners for bathing.
  • Put some cat treats and toys in an empty bathtub to attract your cats to go into the bathtub.
  • When you see your cat has comfortably started to sit in the bathtub, spread his favorite toys in the tub and add one or two inches of water.
  • When your cat has started to play with toys, present him with a piece of treat.
  • Place a dry towel around the bathtub or sink so that your cat can grip it while standing.
  • Try creating a noise-free environment that can help your feline fellow reduce stress while taking a bath.
  • Avoid rubbing shampoo into your cat's eyes or ears.
  • After the bath, use a soft and warm towel to dry your cat.

1. Can I get my cat to like water?

Positive reinforcement is the only way you can teach your cat to like or tolerate water. It would be easier for a kitty to get used to like water than an adult cat.  

Try to put your kitty in an empty sink or tub by offering him treats if he does. Also, give him some of his favorite toys to play with while he is in the sink. Do this for some days and never use any harsh punishment or it will badly impact the cat's experience towards water and bathing.  

2. Can a cat swim?

Though cats do not like water, they do swim. Some of the cat breeds are famous for their swimming abilities and are called natural swimmers.  

The Turkish Vans love swimming with their rounded paws and strong extended body frames. Bengals, the descended of the Asian Leopard cats, also have excellent swimming skills. The other domestic cat breeds that are well known in the swimming area is Maine Coones.

3. Will my cat hate me if I give her a bath?

Your cat will be scared and terrified of you if forced to bathe him. Cats are especially skittish, so try to use gentle and positive techniques to get them used to water.

4. How often should you bathe your cats?

According to the recommendations of the National Cat Groomers of America, you should bathe your cat every 4 to 6 weeks. This will keep cat fur clean.

There are several reasons in evolutionary and behavioral aspects of why do cats hate water. If you want to bathe your cat regularly, you can try the methods above to let your cat get along well with water and enjoy the bathing time.

Amy Granger
Amy is an editor from iPetor, owns a 4-year experience in writing tips and tutorial for users. As a pet owner, she will share more pets care methods and recommend more useful products for all pet owners.
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