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Why Do Cats Hate Water?

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: January 1, 2018
Why Do Cats Hate Water?

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Cats are known for their cleanliness and personal hygiene, and they love drinking water, but when it comes to bath time they don't usually like it very much. Does this happen with all cats? And most importantly, why do cats hate water?

This is the question asked by all cat owners when they struggle to give their pet a bath, or when their cat runs away after being splashed with a little bit of water in an attempt to have some fun.

In this new AnimalWised article we will see just how real this common conception actually is and whether it has any scientific justification. And, above all, we will learn if all cats suffer from this terrible fear of getting wet. Find out why cats hate water!

You may also be interested in: What Sounds Do Cats Hate?

First things first

There are many theories about why cats and kittens hate bathing. The main one is related to their origin as a species. Cats as we know them descend from the first wild cats to be domesticated almost ten thousand years ago in the arid regions of the Middle East, which means that access to water was not as constant.

Later, with migration and further evolution, cats experienced life in other areas where water was more frequent. This means that some breeds of cats have a genetic tendency to stay away from water, while other breeds are now more accustomed.

In fact, cats are attracted to water and can spend periods of time staring at it as if hypnotized. However, they feel a certain respect for it. It is similar to the reaction that humans have with the ocean.

Why Do Cats Hate Water? - First things first

They feel trapped

Cats, though domesticated, are wild animals deep down. They don't like feeling trapped and enjoy having a certain independence. When a cat is soaked in water its coat is a lot heavier, which compromises its agility and mobility. Wet fur becomes a constraint on their freedom.

Why Do Cats Hate Water? - They feel trapped

They like calm

Most cats actually love water, and most of them are great swimmers. However, what they aren't too keen on is being submerged in it, especially when they don't expect it. Cats like doing things slowly, at their own pace.

Our favorite felines are creatures of habit and don't enjoy surprises. It is therefore very important to get them used to a bathing routine when they are young. If not, it could become an extremely unpleasant experience for them which would make your pet associate water with negative life experiences.

Why Do Cats Hate Water? - They like calm

They need to explore the environment

Cats love to feel that they can control their environment and the things happening around them. They are known for being extremely curious creatures, but this is a discreet and cautious curiosity.

Therefore, before completely submerging themselves, cats will first walk calmly around the outside of the water. They will then put their paws in and smell the liquid. Then they will get their head closer to the water and finally they will end up getting their whole body wet. Be patient, and as always, never force your cat into the water.

Why Do Cats Hate Water? - They need to explore the environment

They don't like the smell

The smell of the water is essential for a cat to feel interested in it. Cats are animals with a highly developed sense of smell. They can differentiate between fresh water coming from natural sources and chemically processed water.

It's not uncommon to see cats enjoying a natural well or pool, but they may rapidly flee from a bathtub or a stream of tap water, as their smell is not attractive or trustful at all.

All of the above theories are supported by specialist scientific studies about cat physiology and psychology. However, there is much more to learn. Experts continue to investigate the deep and interesting world of domestic cats.

Why Do Cats Hate Water? - They don't like the smell

What if you want to bathe your cat?

Although it is possible to clean a cat without bathing it, this won't be possible if it is extremely dirty. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to use products such as a dry cleaning shampoo for cats.

A cat that doesn't want to be bathed shouldn't be forced to do so. Only small cats that have followed a socialization process including water are accustomed to, and can tolerate, this human hygiene routine.

If your cat is used to it, however, or you still haven't tried bathing it and don't know how it will react, we recommend you visit our article on how to bathe a cat.

Why Do Cats Hate Water? - What if you want to bathe your cat?

If you want to read similar articles to Why Do Cats Hate Water?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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