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Why Cats Hate Water

Why Do Cats Hate Water? And Why Some Breeds Like it!

If you’re a cat owner, you’re probably familiar with the hardships of getting your cat to bathe.
Cats spend at least half of their day grooming. It’s their natural way of maintaining hygiene, so most of the time, they don’t need a bath. In some situations, though, bathing your cat is necessary. For example, when they have fleas, skin infections, sticky fur or other problems, water may be the only solution.

But most cats will fight taking a bath with all they’ve got.

Why do cats hate water so much?

The main reason why felines don’t like getting wet is related to the climatic and living conditions of their ancestors. The domestic cat is a direct descendant of the African wildcat. The wildcats usually live in more arid conditions.

The dry areas of their habitat lack big water surfaces, so wild cats don’t need to swim for survival. And if your kitty doesn’t like water, it probably carries the genes of the African wildcat. This should help you to answer the question: “Why do cats hate water?”

In this article, we’ll discover the reasons why most cats don’t like water. We’ll also talk about cats who like water and the best tips on how to bathe a cat that hates water.

Keep on reading to learn even more fascinating facts about felines and water.

Why do cats hate water?

Unless you have a Maine Coon or a Bengal that love to splash around, you’re probably wondering: “Why do cats hate water?”

As a matter of fact, they’re not afraid of it. They just don’t like it. Also, not all cat breeds are the same when it comes to water.

For example, big cats like tigers, lions, and cheetahs don’t mind an occasional dip in the pond to cool off. They live in high-temperature climates, so this is their way of staying fresh.

Bengal tiger in water

On the other hand, the direct ancestor of the domestic cat, the Near Eastern Wildcat, lives on dry lands with few water surfaces.

As a result, they don’t need to learn to swim for survival. This trait was genetically passed on to modern cats.

Another reason why most cats dislike water is because it weighs down their fur. This is an important survival tactic, because they need speed and agility to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

Finally, most felines simply don’t know what water feels like, so they avoid it altogether. This is something to remember when trying to find out the answer to “Why do cats hate water.”

If you’ve bathed your kitten since birth, it’ll likely be okay with water. Otherwise, you’re in for a struggle.

Cat Breeds that Like Water

Bengal cat in water pond
Photo by Angie Moreland – Leap Of Faith

While many cats naturally dislike water, there are some that really enjoy it. If you’re trying to understand the question, “why do cats hate water?” you need to remember that not all of them do!

So if you’re thinking of getting a new kitty, consider a breed that loves being pampered in the tub.

Some examples of cat breeds that like water are:

  • Bengals
  • Savannahs
  • Turkish Angoras
  • Turkish Vans
  • American Bobtails
  • Japanese Bobtails
  • Maine Coons
  • Abyssinians
Turkish Vans and Angoras are well known for their love of swimming. They’ll explore everything! This includes their water bowl, puddles, faucets, bathtubs and even your toilet.

Giving these breeds a bath is easy because they actually enjoy it. If you own a Turkish Van or Angora, you can set up a little pool for them to play in.

The American Bobtail is another cat breed that’s fond of water. You’ll find them playing with the faucet or dipping their paws in your aquarium. Though they’re not scared of water, you may need extra effort to get them to bathe.

Bengal explores water
Photo by Angie Moreland – Leap Of Faith

Bengals are a playful, rambunctious breed that really loves water. Half of it is due to their relation to the wild Asian Leopard cat. The other half is a result of their curious nature, so don’t be surprised if they jump right into the shower with you.

Abyssinians will happily splash in fountains, bathtubs, pools, and puddles. You’ll never have to worry about bath time with this breed.

How to Bathe a Cat that Hates Water

Cat taking a bath
Why do cats hate water?

Most domestic cats don’t like water. Of course, this means that bathing them can be problematic. But sometimes, your cat may need a bath. If it’s infested with fleas, has a skin infection, develops a greasy fur, or is very dirty, bath time is in order.

If you have an older cat that’s not very mobile, it probably can’t groom itself properly. In this case, you can try to bathe it once in a while. Similarly, cats with arthritis or weight problems may also be given baths for relief.

To get your cat ready for bathing, you’ll need to prepare everything beforehand. The success of the kitty’s bathing process depends on several things. If you notice the cat is in distress, the general rule is to let it go.

Before you do anything else, trim your cat’s claws and brush its fur to untangle any knots to remove extra hair.

Then, start filling up the tub or sink with warm water. The water level should be up to the cat’s belly. Next, immerse a towel on the bottom of the tub to give the cat something to hold on to.

If you’re bathing your cat for the first time, you’ll want a helper to hold it and comfort it.

Slowly introduce the cat to the water. With a small cup, pour water onto your kitty from its neck down. Don’t wet its head, ears or face.  Try to be relaxed and talk to your cat in a calm, friendly, soothing voice. Make sure the water reaches all areas. Use a special cat shampoo with a mild formula.

Rinse well, removing all shampoo residue. Finally, wipe the cat’s face with a wet towel.

Drying your cat after a bath is the easy part. Wrap it in a warm towel and gently rub it to remove excess water. Most cats will be scared of a hairdryer, so drying it with towels is the least stressful method.

If you have a cat that’s terrified of water, use dry shampoos or cat wipes to clean it.

After drying, brush your cat’s teeth with a special cat toothpaste and brush its fur again. Cats need to feel safe in their environment, so make sure they understand they’re not in any danger. Brushing usually calms down the cat if it’s still scared, but other methods can help too.

Try to relax the kitty by offering cat treats as a reward, giving them cuddles, or just by playing with their favorite toys.

How do I bathe cats who like water?

cat who likes water
Photo by Angie Moreland – Leap Of Faith

Bathing cat breeds that like water is slightly easier, but you still need to prepare.

Bengals, Turkish Vans or Maine Coons don’t usually mind getting wet, so bath time may actually be fun for both of you. You’ll still need to get your kitty ready for the bath routine and make sure it’s comfortable.

Typically, water-loving breeds don’t resist, but if they do, stop everything and let them go.

Rinsing and shampooing depend on the cat’s fur quality and length. Furrier cats may need two rounds of rinsing and drying. Cats with shorter hairs are usually clean after one go.

Use a mild cat shampoo if you can. Some people use baby shampoos, but these are not suitable for cat skin.

How often does my cat need a bath?

Unlike dogs, cats groom themselves often. You don’t need to bathe them to keep them clean.

If you have an outdoor cat, it probably needs bathing more often than an indoor cat. Once a month baths are optimal when your cat needs to be washed. Otherwise, let the cat clean itself naturally.

If you own a cat breed such as Bengal that loves bath time, its grooming routine may be slightly different than other domestic breeds. Bengal cats shed less because of their short fur. You still need to brush them regularly to maintain its hair’s healthy shine.

They’re very active and playful, so they may see bath time as playtime.

Thus, you should make sure they’re calm before taking a bath. The best bathing frequency for a Bengal is once to twice a month.

Why Do Cats Hate Water? The Bottom Line

Not all cats are created equal. The majority of domestic cat breeds have a strong dislike of water for various reasons.

Why do cats hate water? Mostly, because they carry the genes of their ancestor, the African (Near Eastern) wildcat. These cats live in dry climates with few water sources so they don’t need to swim for survival.

Modern cats are not entirely domesticated and still carry some behaviors from their ancestors with them.

Surprisingly, there are some cat breeds that like water or even love it. Remember this the next time you wonder, “Why do cats hate water?” Bengals, Turkish Vans and Angoras, Maine Coons, American and Japanese Bobtails are some examples. Owners of these breeds often witness them jump into puddles, bathtubs and even pools for a swim.

Bengal kitten walking in water
Photo by Angie Moreland – Leap Of Faith

If you own a cat breed that dislikes water but needs bathing for heath reasons, you should be patient. If you haven’t trained your furry friend to enjoy bathing, chances are it’ll hate it.

Cats don’t need bathing on a regular basis, but in the rare cases they do, make sure to prepare them and yourself for it.

Bathtime shouldn’t be stressful or tense for either of you. Having an assistant is crucial to get the washing done as quickly and as painlessly possible.

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