Why do cats hate water?

+24 votes
asked Jan 24, 2018 in Pets & Animals by Bianca (550 points)
edited May 2, 2018
I just gave my kitten his second bath, and he really didn’t like it. He made terrible noises and tried to escape. But when I’m taking a shower, he’s right up against the glass trying to touch the water. Every time he drinks water, he puts his front paws in the water dish. I really don’t understand, why does he love water but also hate it?

1 Answer

+15 votes
answered Jul 15, 2018 by Phillip (1,040 points)
edited Sep 27, 2018

There are a few reasons why your cat doesn’t like being bathed.

  1. Feeling waterlogged - When a cat’s fur becomes completely soaked, she is weighed down and not as agile as usual. Cats don’t like feeling trapped or helpless, and having wet fur makes her feel vulnerable, because she can’t move as quickly.
  2. Nose knows - Some cat owners are surprised to find that their cats enjoy splashing in puddles outside but hate water from the faucet. Your cat’s keen sense of smell can detect the difference between natural water and the water from the tap. The chemical-laden tap water has an unpleasant smell to your cat, and she doesn’t want to bathe in it.
  3. Unfamiliar territory- Felines in the wild can choose whether or not they bathe in water or allow the rain to shower them off. In domestication, on the other hand, they are not given any such choice. Cats are creatures of habit and they don’t like surprises, so being forced to take a bath is a new experience they may not be thrilled about.
  4. Beating the heat - While most cats will do anything to avoid getting soaked, some actually enjoy a nice dip. Cats who live in hot, arid climates like the desert like to cool off with a swim, just like people. However, also like humans, they don’t like to get wet when it’s cold outside, because it makes it more difficult to maintain regular body heat.
  5. One paw at a time - Most house cats are curious about water and will try sticking their paws into a bathtub or sink. Some might stick their head under a running faucet for a sip. But there’s a difference between testing the waters and being immersed, particularly when the bath is not the cat’s own choice!

Of course, not all cats dislike water. In fact, some quite like it.

  • A breed of cat called the Turkish Van is often called the “swimming cat” for its love of water. The Turkish Angora, which hails from the same area, also loves it. It may be because these breeds evolved near Lake Van, and swam there to cool off.
  • Bengal cats are known to enjoy a swim, which makes sense when you realize that the Bengal is the descendant of domestic cats bred with the Asian Leopard Cat, who is also known to love water.
  • Savannah Cats, a breed created by domestic cats breeding with wild Servals, have kept the wild cats’ affinity for water.
  • Norwegian Forest Cats hunt for fish in their natural habitat.
  • Main Coon Cats have thick, water-repellent fur and were a mainstay of whalers in New England. 
commented Jun 15, 2015 by ashli (1,030 points)
Good answer to the question "Why do cats hate water?"
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