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Why do Cats Hate Water?

One of the most common traits cats share, other than kneading and purring, is the hatred for getting wet. There are a select few cats, like the Turkish Angora, that love water. That is not the case for most cats.

In fact, many cats are fascinated by water, and they love to splash in their water bowl or play with the dripping water from the faucet. However, actually being submerged in water is a big no-no for the majority of cats for a variety of reasons.


Most domestic cats descend from wild cats that lived in desert-like regions without any surrounding large bodies of water or rain. Because today's cats' feline ancestors lived in dry climates, learning to swim wasn't necessary for survival. This behavior, like many others, has been passed down the generations to our modern day cats.

They don't have the right coat

Unlike most dogs, cat fur doesn't repel water and if it gets wet, it can take a long time for your cat's coat to dry. In addition, when a cat's coat gets wet, it weighs them down, making it harder for them to get away, which makes them uncomfortable. A heavy, wet coat will also give them the chills.

They're self-grooming creatures

Cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves and their other kitty mates. As a result, they prefer that their fur smells "normal" to them. Bathing them strips their fur of its natural smell, and cats will continue to "clean" their coat to bring the smell back to normal. Thus, in their eyes, bathing cats creates more work for them.

They don't like new experiences

Behaviorally, cats don't like surprises or new experiences, and they are generally less tolerant of change than dogs. A cat that hasn't been exposed to water at a young age, will likely hate the feeling of being drenched in water. On the other hand, cats that were exposed to water as kittens may be more willing to be in water. Putting a cat into water for the first time will most likely trigger the cat's flight instinct.

What if my cat needs a bath?

Usually, cat parents only give their feline friends a bath when it's absolutely needed, whether it's for medical reasons or an overly dirty cat. If your cat undeniably needs a bath, it's best to make it as stress-free as possible. The more comfortable you can make your cat, the more successful the bath will be.

Before bringing your cat into the bathroom, fill the tub with warm (not too hot) water and shut the faucet off so the noise doesn't startle your cat. Other than water, one of the main reasons cats don't like baths is because they can't get their footing when in the tub. Lay a towel down in the tub to make sure your cat has some traction. Reward your cat with their favorite treats when bath time is over, which might help them associate yummy treats with bath time.

Molly's Tip
Max & Molly
When in doubt, ask your vet for more tips on bathing your cat.
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