Do Cats Hate Water?

So, why do so many cats dislike getting wet? There are some sound reasons that make sense when you consider them from a cat’s point of view.


Even though the large cats in warm regions may use water to stay cool, the ancestors of domestic cats came from arid climates. They had no practical reason to be swimmers.

Safety and Survival

Water can weigh the cat down as the coat gets saturated. This could inhibit a cat’s flexibility and agility. In addition to being predators, cats are also prey. A waterlogged coat could seriously limit a cat’s ability to escape danger.

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Scent Issues

Water can strip a cat’s familiar scent. Cats rely heavily on scent identification. Being in water creates more work for the cat to re-establish personal scent through grooming.

Having such a sensitive sense of smell, a cat may strongly dislike chemicals in the water.

Negative Associations

Some cats, especially those who weren’t gently trained to water and bathing, may find the sudden sensation to be jarring and stressful. Remember, abrupt change is not a cat-friendly experience.

Cats whose first exposure to water was being restrained for a flea bath or an urgent dunk in the tub for other medical reasons, are not likely too keen on repeating another water encounter.

Cats whose unwanted behaviors resulted in being corrected by getting sprayed with a squirt bottle may view bathing negatively. Cats allowed outdoors may have been chased out of a neighbor’s yard by means of a spray from the garden hose. Even being in the wrong place at the wrong time when the lawn sprinklers turn on may create a dislike of water.

Also Read:   Think Like a Cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett

Can Cats be Trained to Accept Bathing?

If cats are trained as kittens to being bathed, it is possible they’ll tolerate the process when grown. If starting with an adult cat, it will take being gentle, patient and completely prepared for the process. Most cats don’t ever need to be bathed though and if done unnecessarily, it can dry out the cat’s skin, strip the personal scent and create needless stress. Bathing may be needed for medical reasons, if the cat got into something, as well as certain breeds may require baths.

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