cats hate water

Why Do Cats Hate Water?

In Animal Health, cat behavior, cat cpr, cat first aid, Cats, Kitties, pet care professional, Pet First Aid, Pet Industry, Pet Safety, pet sitter, Spring pet safety, Summer pet safety by Cara ArmourLeave a Comment

I know plenty of you have cats that love it, I have pet sit for many that not only enjoy a drink from the running faucet but they have no qualms about dunking their head in while doing so.

cat drinks from faucet

My own cat enjoys dipping her paws into the water, cupping some and bringing it to her mouth. She then enjoys flinging her wet paw thus leaving little splash marks everywhere.

But the general consensus is cats hate water, they avoid it like a plague – unless of course to lap it up for survival.

They Haven’t Evolved to Like It

The little lions running around our living room are descended from former felines that lived in arid regions. While water may have certainly always been on their mind, it wasn’t on them.

For a cat roaming the desert that got most of its water consumption from the prey it ate, seeking out water to bathe in was the furthest from its evolutionary goal. Unless the food came from the water, cats generally only seek to drink when absolutely necessary. They can survive primarily on the water consumed from their meaty meals.

There are descendant breeds that have developed an aquatic admiration. The Turkish Van and Maine Coon breeds of cats can be found taking dips when in their natural environments. The Turkish Van, in particular, would take a swim out to greet the fishing boats and capture some of their catch. While not only enjoying the spoils of the fishing trip, they also assisted in keeping rodents off the ships so it was an aquatic adaption with mutual benefits.

swimming cat

It’s also not uncommon to find breeds of jungle cats launching into the water to catch fish, but these are acceptions. Your domestic shorthaired tuxedo most likely runs when water enters the air.

They Physically Can’t Handle Being Wet

Most of our domestic cats’ coats are not designed to be submerged or get wet in general. Their top coat tends to be hydrophobic, or repellent of water. Their undercoat which serves as insulation, when wet acts like a sponge. A sopping wet kitty cat then becomes a super heavily soaked sponge – not something many of them enjoy.

Cats also have a higher normal body temperature than humans and require more insulation to keep it that way. When you soak a cat they become cold which then presents the challenge of having to get dry and warm – a two-way battle they do their best to avoid.

Should You Bathe Your Cat?

cat bath

Eh, depends on your cat. I have bathed my 10-year-old cat twice in her entire life. Once when we brought her home from the shelter and again when she got out overnight and smelled of the dead prey she must have enjoyed capturing.

If your cat’s coat is short and they are good self-groomers, then no, your cat really doesn’t need a bath. Certainly not on a frequent basis or even more than once a year.

What your cat does need is frequent brushing, nail clipping, and general body checks. Weekly you should be checking their teeth, if they seem to be limping, their eye clarity etc. For a more exhaustive list and how to recognize common problems, check out our pet first aid course. Our ER veterinarian teaches you everything you should be looking out for to keep your kitty healthy.

For older cats or longer coated kitties, particularly if your brushing and their grooming seem to be lacking in keeping their coat clean, then yes a bath is in order. Remeber to frequently smell your cat. Some long-haired cats, particularly of the obese variety cannot clean their potty parts very well and will need your assistance in both keeping clean and losing weight.

A General Rule

You know your cat the best. If they like water then let them have at it safely as not to cause any safety concerns. If they don’t then do not force them to, they have good physical reasons not to like it.

If you have a pool and your cat is ever near it, it’s a very good idea to place them in it and show them how to effectively get out. You may want to adorn some sort of body armor so they don’t shred you trying to climb out but in all seriousness, it’s a safety concern for your cat to slip in and slip away from you. Show them in a positive light that while falling into a body of water certainly sucks, there are ways to survive.

cat by a pool

Do you have a story about your cat and it’s love or hate for water? Share it with us! 

cat swimming in a pool


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