It’s probably the most commonly-asked questions on cats, up there with “why do cats purr?” and “why do cats meow?”

Like purring, meowing, and the power to sleep in positions that may go away you sore for weeks, the feline worry of water nearly looks as if a defining a part of their programming.


Like so many questions on feline habits, nobody actually is aware of why cats hate water.

The main theories level to cats’ meticulous cleansing habits, their tendency to get chilly after a dip, and their desert origins. But till we’re capable of interview a cat about his aversion to water, these solutions are just some items of a posh puzzle.

Here are a number of concepts about why cats—most of them, at the very least—are so frightened of water.

1. Your cat descends from desert wildcats, which implies that they by no means developed a pure curiosity in or expertise with water.

A piece printed by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association means that cats’ ancestry could play an element of their aversion to water. Your cat’s wild ancestors advanced in arid climates the place water was scarce and cats didn’t expertise many lakes, rivers, streams, and even puddles.

Dr. John Bradshaw, professor on the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Science, advised Mental Floss that cats “…never had to learn how to swim. There was no advantage to it.”

In different phrases, being within the water simply wasn’t that helpful to your cat’s ancestors, so it didn’t turn into part of feline day by day life. And for an animal as cautious as your cat, issues which might be unfamiliar often look fairly scary.

On a facet observe, this desert historical past impacts your cat’s relationship with water in one other space—the water bowl.

The trendy home cat’s low thirst drive is considered a remnant of their desert heritage and an atmosphere that rewarded the power to outlive on high-moisture prey.

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That disinclination to drink from a bowl implies that cats seldom lap sufficient water to remain hydrated. That’s why it’s so essential to present your cat a high-moisture weight loss program slightly than kibble.

And whereas his desert ancestors might need gone lengthy stretches of time away from the watering gap, your cat ought to have a relentless provide of contemporary, clear water so he can drink at any time when he needs to.

2. Your Cat’s Coat Gets Heavy And Uncomfortable When It’s Wet.

A cat’s coat isn’t that of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. It’s neither oily nor waterproof nor straightforward to shake out. Taking a shower seemingly leaves your cat feeling clumsy and weak. means that it appears like “having to carry a soaking wet blanket on your shoulders until it gets dry again.”

And in addition to feeling like a soggy 10-pound blanket, a moist coat shortly reduces your cat’s physique temperature. Especially in the event that they stay in cool climates or drafty homes, many cats will begin shivering as quickly as they get out of the bathtub.

3. A Water Bath Disrupts Your Cat’s Natural Grooming Routine.

That water and shampoo may help to take away grime and grease, but it surely additionally removes a few of your cat’s pure scent.

Your cat seemingly spends hours of on daily basis grooming himself. Not solely does all of that licking handle to maintain your cat clear, but it surely additionally retains his coat so as and retains him smelling, effectively, like himself.

When you place your cat in water, you muss his coat and take away a few of that pure scent, changing it with something from the odor of faucet water to an intense shampoo scent.

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After getting out of the water, most cats instantly get to work on their very own type of tub, restoring their regular scent and getting each hair again so as.

But none of those causes clarify why your cat is so terrified when he encounters water.

While these explanations are fascinating items of the puzzle, they don’t totally reply our major query. The underlying problem is that your cat is a extremely delicate creature and uncomfortable with absolutely anything that’s unfamiliar.

Everything about your cat is tightly-wound, ultra-aware, and able to snap into motion at any second. 

His eyes shift side-to-side. His ears pivot. His whiskers twitch. He’s looking ahead to prey. Listening for a chirp from throughout the home. He not often drifts right into a deep sleep, as an alternative lingering proper on the sting of awakeness.

Whether resting, exploring, or watching mud in a sunbeam, each a part of your cat’s physique is able to react.

That hyper-awareness and sensitivity make cats reply to experiences otherwise than different animals. Compared to canine, for instance, they’re extra prone to cover when visitors go to, refuse to make use of a unique kind of litter, or cease consuming as a consequence of stress.

So, sure. Your cat’s coat feels heavy when it’s moist. Water makes him chilly. It removes his scent and has an odd scent of its personal. And it’s not a deep-seated a part of the historic feline expertise.

But your cats’ intense sensitivity is why all of these elements—and maybe others we haven’t recognized but—are so upsetting.

But…Not All Cats Hate Water!

Some cats are exceptions to the rule. Whether they like dipping a paw within the sink or going for a swim, a number of uncommon cats take pleasure in being in and round water. Breeds with a selected affinity for water embody Turkish Vans, Turkish Angoras, and Savannahs.

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With no identified bodily distinction between any of those breeds or people, character is the largest deciding consider whether or not or not a cat will take pleasure in just a little H2O.

Do Wild Cats Hate Water, Too?

Not all of them!

Some huge cats, like leopards, tigers, and jaguars, seem to take pleasure in getting drenched. The Fishing Cat takes this to extremes.

This smaller relative of the leopard lives alongside rivers, tidal creeks, and swamps and is understood to swim underwater whereas pursuing his aquatic prey. Click right here to observe an superior video concerning the Fishing Cat.

Can You Train Your Cat To Like Water?

While there’s no strategy to assure that your cat will love baths and splashing in puddles, you’ll be able to assist them set up a comparatively wholesome relationship with water.

By introducing your kitten to water early in life, by no means forcing him to take a dip until he’s prepared, and taking part in species-appropriate video games with water, you could possibly educate him that getting moist doesn’t need to be terrifying.

While kittenhood is the very best time to ascertain an excellent relationship with water, taking the suitable steps could make bathtime much less annoying for cats of all ages.

Only bathe your cat if there’s no higher different—your cat is smeared with grease or has a flea infestation—and make it as snug as you’ll be able to. If you’re in search of recommendations on safely give your cat a trauma-free tub, watch this video from Dr. Karen Becker.

Want to study extra about why your cat does what he does? Explore extra articles on cat habits.


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