Why Do Cats Avoid Water? 4 Reasons Your Cat Despises It

Cats despise water, and this is a well-known fact. The internet is littered with videos of cats falling into baths or fish tanks, causing them to levitate in terror.

Cats will splash around in small water bowls or lick any drips from the bathroom faucet, but when it comes to larger bodies of water, they completely lose their sense of humor.

So, what's the story?

Reasons why your cat dislikes water

If you're looking for explanations, here are four plausible causes of cats' dislike of water.

It's a natural progression

Most domestic cats are descended from African wildcats, which evolved in arid areas with few big amounts of water, such as rivers and lakes. As a result, these felines never had to learn to swim. Domestic cats will still shun water nearly 10,000 years later.

The instinct for survival

Cats avoid water because they lack control over it. A dripping faucet and a tiny puddle are one thing; a rushing river is quite another.

Also, remember that wonderful fluffy coat you adore stroking? It absorbs water like a thirsty sponge, weighing down the cat and impairing their mobility. Wet fur takes a long time to dry and might get cold quickly.

Water in a cat's eyes and ears can also impair its ability to analyze adjacent hazards, making them more exposed to prospective adversaries.

Perfectionists are cats

We assume cats are obsessed with grooming for vanity, but it's also a matter of being in top shape to face any hazards.

While water does not have a distinct odor to humans, the same cannot be said for cats. Cats can detect toxins in water and prefer not to be saturated to avoid smelling like that all day.

Cats release pheromones into their fur to identify their territory and communicate with others, thus any submersion in water will wash this away.

Previous adversity

Many cats are scared of water because of a previous experience, most typically getting caught in a downpour, being sprayed with water, or being forced to bathe or drowned. The shock of unexpected dampness might remain, leading cats to avoid water at all costs.


There are exceptions to the rule in everything. Some cats enjoy being in the water.

Aside from the larger cats like lions and tigers who enjoy a swim in the water to cool down, many ordinary domestic breeds enjoy a nice splash in the water.

Some cats like dipping their paws into their water bowls or lapping from a dripping faucet. As long as they maintain control of the situation, it can be a pleasurable sensory experience (imagine shimmering surfaces and trickling and gently splashing sounds).

Then there are the exceptions to the 'cats dislike water' rule. Abyssinians and Bengals are brave and adventurous, and will happily swim in it, but Maine Coons have water-repellent coats. The Turkish van, sometimes known as the swimming cat,' is a unique type of cat with a water-resistant coat.

Can I make my cat like water?

It is feasible to train your cat to drink water, but it will take time and patience on your part.

Remember that cats are easily overstimulated. Bathing them can be a nightmare for them, from the way their fur feels wet to the fragrance of any soaps and shampoos, and the sound of gushing, rushing water echoing in a tiled bathroom.

Bathing cats who are water phobic

We've already noted how fastidious cats are; they spend most of their days grooming and hence are essentially self-cleaning.

However, if you feel compelled to bathe your cat, here are some helpful hints to make the experience less painful for your cat and considerably less scratched up for you.

Organize yourself

Make sure you have everything you need ready ahead of time: shampoo (preferably one made for cats), treats, toys, a cup or jug to pour from, and a fluffy, warm towel to wrap them up in after.

To offer your cat additional grip and security, insert a towel or a rubber mat at the bottom of the tub. A slick tub floor will make your cat feel insecure and stressed.

Maintain a quiet atmosphere

The goal here is to produce the least amount of stress possible. Fill the tub ahead of time because the sound of flowing water can be frightening to your cat. Maintain a modest water level in the tub so your cat does not feel threatened.

Avoid making loud noises. Keep the door closed to keep outside noises at bay, and lavish your cat with calming, calm praise.

Maintain a firm but the moderate tone

During a bath, your cat is likely to feel extremely exposed. Restrain them firmly, but not harshly, as this can stress them out. Bath time for your cat should never resemble an amateur wrestling match.

Take note of your cat's body language. Don't push it if they appear overwhelmed and upset. To foster a good environment, lavish them with praise and treats.

Use a cup instead of the faucet

When it comes time to rinse, a cup or jug will be considerably less terrifying to your cat than a loud faucet or handheld shower. Cleaning a small area rather than submerging your cat's complete body is always preferred.

To avoid skin irritation, go slowly and get all of the suds out. Furthermore, your cat will most likely groom themselves quickly after their bath, and you don't want them to consume any leftover shampoo.

It is critical not to wet your cat's head; their ears, eyes, and whiskers are incredibly sensitive. Getting water on their face nearly always results in an angry kitten.

Towel-dry in a warm place

No prizes for predicting that slamming a screaming blow dryer into your already agitated feline would end badly.

A warm, soft, and fluffy towel will suffice. Allow your cat to do the rest by giving them a nice rub down. To avoid catching a cold, keep your cat in a warm room away from drafts , and don't let them out until they're completely dry.

Give sweets and then depart

Shower your cats with praise and treats, then take a break to let them recover from the hardship. They're probably overstimulated and require some space at this point.

When your cat appears to be recovering from the ordeal, devote some playing to provide a healthy outlet for any extra stimulation and to reestablish a happy atmosphere.

We have an article about cat skin, coat, and dental care for people who have survived bathing their cats.

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