Why Do Cats Hate Water? [6 Reasons Cats Hate Water]

Wondering why cats hate water? Here we explain why and tell you how to overcome it when trying to give your cat a bath.


To sum things up, your cat may hate water due to some of the following reasons.

  • Evolutionary background
  • Waterlogging of fur
  • A drop in body temperature
  • Sensitivity to odors
  • Fear of water
  • Behavioral Patterns

Why Do Cats Hate Water?

Let’s discuss some of the factors contributing to your cat’s dislike of water in detail.


The Genetic History of a Cat

Most domesticated cats have evolved from ancestral felines called Arabian Wild Cats that used to live in dry regions such as deserts and the like.

These areas had few bodies of water hence the absence of the need to swim for survival.

The other thing is that, even if cats were ‘domesticated’ thousands of years ago, they still retain some of the instincts their wild ancestors had.

They’re always on the lookout for potential dangers, so they like to keep themselves in the best shape to face-off any threat that pops up.

When cats get submerged in water, the fur soaks up weighing them down, which isn’t really advantageous when they’re fleeing away from danger.

Waterlogging of Cats’ Fur

Like we’ve mentioned, cats’ fur soaks up real good which weighs them down. However, another reasonable question pops up: Don’t dogs have fur as well? They love water, don’t they?

Well, the thing with cats is that unlike dogs, they spend from 30 to 50% of their day licking, nibbling and generally grooming themselves. This cleaning gets rid of a lot of oils. A dog’s fur, on the contrary, is a lot more oily which makes it generally water-proof.

Calm lake with cat sitting on old wooden pier and autumnal hills in background.Since cats don’t share in the waterproof superpowers, they’re more apt to retain water in fur and feel cold.

The Drop in A Cats’ Body Temperature

Once cats are plopped into someplace full of water, their body temperature drops down drastically.

That is because most domestic cats have little fur, making way for water to easily come into direct contact with their skin.

When they get soaked, their fur doesn’t dry off that easily as well.


Sensitivity to Odors

Cats are highly sensitive to odors. A cat’s sense of smell is 14 times more sensitive than a human’s.

Cats can smell chemicals in tap water which can be tremendously irritating to them.

On top of smelly tap water… conditioners, shampoos, and soaps that you add to your cat’s bath can be unpleasant sometimes..

Fear of Water

Some cats may have had some negative experiences with water that’s created an aversion out of fear.

For instance, being trapped in an actual downpour, or having water sprayed on them as an act of discipline, or even forced into a flea bath. All of these may have contributed to your cat’s hatred towards water.

Behavioral Patterns

Cats are routine-loving creatures. They dislike what’s abrupt, as it makes them feel less secure and prone to some form of danger.

In other words, they’re not really fond of change nor experiencing anything new as opposed to dogs.

If you’ve regularly bathed your cat when it was still a kitten, it’ll be more tolerant towards bath time, maybe even develop some fondness towards it as opposed to suddenly throwing your adult cat into a bathtub.

How Can I Bathe My Cat If It Hates Water?

Cats are meticulous creatures. They spend a big portion of their lives grooming themselves so they wouldn’t need frequent bathing, unlike dogs.

However, if your cat’s been totally dirtied out, as in smelly or outright muddy, it does need a nice bath.

Kitten in Washtub Getting Groomed By Bubble Bath

If your cat’s still a kitten, try to expose it to baths. It’ll be more manageable, and your cat will get used to them in the long run.

If your adult cat isn’t used to baths or has some aversion towards it, you may find the following guide helpful.

Get Your Cat Used to the Bathtub

Place your cat’s favorite toys, or its catnip inside your tub while empty. Encourage your cat to explore it however it likes.

After your cat gets used to your bathtub, fill it with water to about an inch and throw in more toys.

Do this multiple times over a few weeks, that’s till your cat’s used to your bathtub filled with a minimal amount of water.

When the Time Comes to Have an Actual Bath

Be sure to place a thick towel or a mat at the bottom of the tub so that your cat feels stable and secure.

Don’t be anxious, this will cause your cat to become anxious in turn.

Also, make sure not to restrain your cat too much. Have all your equipment ready beside you so that you get this ordeal over as fast as possible.

When soaping up your cat, don’t use heavily scented material.

Wash the soap off by pouring water over your cat using a small container, like a cup or so. The sound of a showerhead or faucet may frighten your cat.

Drying Your Cat Off

Preferably, a towel would work best to dry off your cat. A blow-dryer may be too hot and may cause burns on your cat’s skin. Your cat may get scared because of its sound as well.

For more info on cat baths, you can check out our guide on how to bathe a cat.

The Takeaway

Cats are some fascinating creatures, aren’t they? They’re a bit complex but with a simple understanding of their nature, you can get the hang of their personalities pretty soon!

If you’d like to implement anything water-related in your cat’s lifestyle, make sure to take it slowly and gradually till your cat’s totally chill and gets used to it!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on email
Share on print

Other Posts You May Like...