Owning and being owned by a cat can be a very rewarding experience. You learn to know their likes and dislikes. Many of these vary between individual animals, but some feline dislikes are universal.
One thing that most cats really hate is water. Especially when it is presented to them in the form of a human-initiated bath. Here are some key points that answer the question of why don’t cats like water.
- Water Actually Fascinates Cats
- Cats Are Fastidious Creatures
- Water Makes Their Coat Heavy
- Cats Can Get Cold
- Domestic Cats Are Not Used to Water
- Water Triggers Their Fight or Flight Response
- They Don’t Enjoy Bath time
The veterinary professionals at cathealth.com tell you that cats prefer to be in charge.[Source] Cats also hate surprises. As long as you recognize these two facts, everyone should get along just fine.
Why Don’t Cats Like Water?
Why don’t cats like water? If you have ever attempted to give a cat a bath, you most likely lost blood. Their reactions to their humans bathing them are partially due to the bath not being the cat’s idea. It is also due to an almost universal dislike of water.
Water Actually Fascinates Cats
When the kitchen faucet drips, the cat is usually right there to observe it. More often than not, they will drink from it. These interactions with water are okay because they are on the cat’s terms.
Cats Are Fastidious Creatures
Cats are fastidious about their grooming habits. They groom themselves almost constantly, and they certainly have the tongues for it. But in doing so, they are accustomed to how their coats taste.
Whenever you give a cat a bath, between the soap you use and the chemicals in the water, the taste of their coat changes for them. If you watch a cat following a human-initiated bath, you will see them groom themselves for hours afterward. That is, between the looks of loathing at their well-meaning humans.
Your cat’s grooming routine is an essential part of their lives. When you disrupt it with a bath, you take that away from them. Cats do not take to change well.
In a cat’s mind, grooming themselves is enough. There are some, usually, the long-hair breeds, who love to be brushed. If it is something they are willing to accept, they will let you know.
[Related Article: 11 Unknown Water Cat Breeds In The World That Like Water]
Water Makes Their Coat Heavy
Whereas dogs tend to have water-resistant properties throughout their coats, cats are different. The top layer of a cat’s coat has minimal water resistance. When a cat is completely soaked from a bath, its coat holds the water and becomes very heavy.
Cats are quick on their feet to escape from perceived threats, and a heavy coat weighs them down. This might make them feel vulnerable to potential predators. It only takes once for them to know they don’t want to feel that way again.
Cats Can Get Cold
The normal body temperature of a cat is higher than that of its humans. Their normal temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, substantially higher than our 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit normal temperature. Despite their full-time fur coat, they can have a hard time getting warm if that coat is compromised by water.
When you think about the length of time it takes for a cat to dry off, that’s a long time for a cat to feel cold. Trying to help them dry off with a blow dryer should be discouraged. It is not usually a good option, and I have the scars to prove it. Towel drying can be somewhat effective if they will allow you to hold on to them that long’
Domestic Cats Are Not Used to Water
If you consider their evolution, most domestic housecats have little exposure to large quantities of water. Since they are not used to it, and cats dislike change, it is an unwelcome change for the most part.
According to the experts at Animal Planet, there are some breeds who do enjoy the water. The Turkish Van and Maine Coon breeds come from areas where they became accustomed to swimming. Many even seemed to enjoy their interaction with water.
Those breeds developed their swimming abilities due to their food sources. These domesticated cats belonged to groups whose primary source of food was fish. The breeds were commonly found on their master’s boats or swimming out to meet them.
Water Triggers Their Fight or Flight Response
Because they are not accustomed to water, a cat’s fight or flight response is triggered when they encounter it. This can be both bad and good for their humans. It is the reason the claws come out at bath time.
From the perspective of using a spritz from a water bottle for behavioral purposes, this is a good thing. With most cats, this form of “no” only needs to happen a few times. After that, simply showing them the water bottle is enough to stop them in their tracks.
[Related Article: Read This Today Before Using Dish Soap On Your Cat]
They Don’t Enjoy Bath time
It is possible to train a cat to enjoy bath time. To do so, you need to make it part of their routine as a kitten. If you used enough praise and reward them with treats, it is possible that your cat might even begin to enjoy it.
There is one breed that needs to be bathed regularly. The Sphynx breed has no fur and their skin gets oily. Warm water and a medicated pet shampoo can take care of this weekly ritual.
For a Sphynx, these warm baths are soothing. They are one of the few breeds who will enjoy their encounters with water. If you have a Sphynx, make sure that it is a regularly scheduled part of their routine.
Some cats will behave the opposite of what we all expect them to. One of our cats was thrown in the shower as punishment once. He repeated the bad behavior again and again.
It took us a little while to realize that it was his way of telling us that he enjoyed getting wet. Once we figured it out, we would allow him to join us in the shower and the bad behavior stopped. Since it was on his terms it was acceptable.
Cats are actually pretty smart in their own way. If you pay attention, they can tell you what you need to know about why don’t cats like water.
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