By: Door Buddy Editors | Published: October 31, 2023
If you have a cat of your own, you've probably observed that your feline friend is often wary or anxious when it comes to water, exhibiting a typical "cat afraid of water" response. Splash a bit of water your cat’s way, and they’ll most likely pounce in the opposite direction.
They’ll do anything they can to dodge that splash of water! This may leave you wondering, “Why does my cat hate water so much?” We know that some cats can be a little overly dramatic at times, but what’s the deal?
By the end of this article, you will have a firm answer to the question, “Why do cats hate water?” We’ll give you a quick history lesson on how your cat’s ancestors passed on a simple behavioural instinct to give you an even better understanding why domestic cats dislike water itself.
THE HISTORY OF CATS AND WATER
If you didn’t already know, your cat, as with all kitties, was derived from wildcats called Felis Silvestris Lybica. Now that’s a mouthful!
These feline ‘fur-ends’ originated from Fertile Crescent, located in the Middle East. If you’ve seen the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt, you may have noticed a common theme of cats. That’s because the wildcat also roamed andlived in ancient Egypt.
So, what do Egypt and the Middle East have in common? They’re both desert regions!
As we all know, these regions aren’t exactly famous for being rich in water supply! As a result, the wildcats that once roamed these areas never needed to swim and frolic in huge bodies of water.
Did this little history lesson help you grasp why cats hate water?
WHY DON'T CATS LIKE WATER?
Aside from the preexisting preferences, there are several reasons why cats hate water. Let’s get to it!
1. Cats Are Self-Cleaning Machines
Aside from lazing around, climbing trees, and chasing birds, you can always count on one thing: your cat will be licking themselves.
No, this isn’t because cats groom by bathing their kittens; they’re the tastiest thing on this planet. Furball soup, anyone? They’re actually grooming and bathing themselves and keeping themselves clean! This is why you never really need to bathe your cat.
What a win, right?!
2. Cats Are Obsessed with Their Scent
A cat’s sense of smell is very sensitive. They use their sense of smell to detect and navigate the world around them. A cat’s scent is, therefore, a basic form of communication between themselves and others.
You know when your cat purrs up next to you and gives you a little cuddle? Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but what they’re actually doing is marking their territory. AKA, spreading their scent.
The scent they cover themselves with is left behind when they rub themselves on their ‘hooman’, other cats, and objects. This helps our cats become ‘fur-miliar’ with their surroundings! It can be a huge comfort.
With that in mind, do you know what happens to pets when dogs or cats paws get wet? The water washes their scent away - ‘cat-astrophe’!
After all that comfort and territory talk, we bet you're starting to see why it's a big deal, right?
3. Cats Feel ‘Uncom-fur-table’ When Wet
Imagine walking around with wet towels drooped over your body for an hour or two. Surely you’d hate it! That’s exactly how our kitties feel when they’re drenched with water.
Instead of deflecting water for cats with large bodies, their furry coats actually absorb water. As a result, the water makes their coats heavier and their bodies less nimble and free to move.
On top of that, their coats take super long to dry. This isn’t pleasant for your cat, and they’ll do anything to avoid this from happening. Wouldn't you hate to sit around in wet clothes all day too?
4. Water Smells Bad to Cats
Cats are sensitive to various odors they dislike, especially strong scents in water, such as those from treatment chemicals.
For instance, the recognizable chlorine smell in swimming pools can be overwhelming for cats, considering they have up to 200 million nasal receptors, significantly more than humans.
Imagine facing the prospect of falling into a pool with a strong, unpleasant odor – you'd probably want to escape quickly as well.
5. Cats Feel Uneasy and Out of Control in Water
In certain circumstances, the experience of being in water can leave us, and even our feline friends, feeling somewhat overwhelmed. Cats, equipped with their sharp hunting skills and instinctive scent-marking habits, possess innate tools to manage their surroundings.
A confident cat relies on a sense of control. If they sense a loss of control, it easily leads to fear. So, when your cat is in water and feels a lack of authority, it's probable they'll become distressed.
6. Fear or Discomfort
Cats are enigmatic beings with distinct habits. If a cat hasn't experienced a bath before, it might not appreciate the sensation of being soaked.
A single unpleasant encounter with water can create a lasting fear response in the cat. This fear could stem from the unfamiliarity of the experience and the physical sensations involved. On the flip side, a cat exposed to water regularly during kittenhood might be conditioned to be more receptive to it.
7. Dry time
Bathing a cat can result in a prolonged drying time for their fur. Some cats avoid getting wet, possibly because they are aware of the extended drying process that follows, leaving them damp and displeased. Additionally, damp fur can make them feel cold, contributing to a period of chilliness after being in water.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR CAT 'COM-FUR-TABLE' AROUND WATER
Now that we know why cats don’t like water, you can better understand their distastes. If you feel that there may be a good reason for your cat to become a little more ‘com-fur-table’ around water, there are a few things that you can try.
We suggest incorporating water into your cat’s life in small ways. These ways can include:
1. Get your cat used to the sound of running water
Turn on faucets when your pet enters the kitchen. Make sure he’s around when you fill his water bowl. Reward him for sticking around with a small treat or two.
2. Spend time in the bathroom with your furry friend
Play with toys in the bathroom, especially in and around the sink and bathtub. Make the space welcoming and rewarding.
3. Use a damp washcloth
Introduce a damp washcloth when your cat is comfortable in the sink or tub. Gently rub it on their paws, legs, and back.
4. Wet their feet
Let your cat explore a sink or a bathtub with a tiny bit of water in it. The goal is to make him comfortable with the sensation of wet paws. (Make sure that water is room temperature — not cold!)
5. Dribble water over your cat’s body
Gradually get your cat used to water by dribbling small amounts over their body. Start gently before progressing to the full force of a faucet, ensuring your cat remains comfortable with the experience.
CAT BATHING 101: A QUICK AND EASY TUTORIAL FOR A STRESS-FREE EXPERIENCE
Are you interested in giving your cat a bath but find yourself uncertain about the process? Fear not, as here is a brief yet comprehensive tutorial on how to get a cat used to a bath. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth and stress-free bathing experience for you and your cat.
DO ALL CATS HATE WATER?
After reading this article, you may be asking yourself the question, “Do all cats hate water?” Like many things in life, there are exceptions to this phenomenon. The answer is no; not all cats hate water.
Various domesticated cat breeds exhibit a fondness for water. Some of these feline enthusiasts include:
The Turkish Van
The Maine Coon
Norwegian Forest Cat
Among domesticated cats, there are five relatively common breeds that find joy in swimming and don't exhibit a complete aversion to water. These cat breeds possess a distinct hair texture that makes them more water-resistant, allowing them to avoid discomfort and even take pleasure in water activities.
CONCLUSION: WHY DO CATS HATE WATER
We hope this explanation sheds light on why many cats exhibit a dislike for water. While it's generally true that numerous cats share this dislike, exceptions exist based on a cat's breed and early experiences.
Interestingly, even among breeds not typically known for water affinity, there's potential to train a cat to enjoy a splash around.
From ancient Egypt to modern times, one constant remains: cats aren't typically fans of water. Delving into the question of "why do cats hate water?" reveals an understandable aspect of their nature. After all, who wouldn't hesitate to go from a fluffy, dry state to a soggy and wet mess? Certainly not us!