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Cats and Water: Overcoming Fear and Encouraging Hydration

Cats and Water: The Untold Story

Have you ever tried to give your cat a bath, only to find yourself chasing a soaked feline around your house? Or have you ever wondered why your pet cat has such an aversion to water?

There’s actually a scientific reason behind why cats hate water, and here’s what you need to know. Cats’ Evolution and Water

Cats are known for their independent nature, and their behavior around water can be traced back to their evolution.

Many cat breeds hail from dry and arid environments, where water is scarce. As a result, cats have adapted to rely on grooming themselves to keep clean and hydrated.

Wetting their fur can be uncomfortable and heavy, making it hard for them to move freely. This is why cats are so fastidious when it comes to their grooming routine.

Unfamiliarity with Water

Cats are creatures of habit and routine, so anything that’s unfamiliar or uncomfortable is likely to make them feel stressed and afraid. When it comes to water, household cats are not typically raised around or exposed to it, which can make them uncomfortable or even afraid.

If a cat hasn’t had positive experiences with water from a young age, they are more likely to show an aversion to it.

Lack of Control

Cats are control freaks. They like to be in control of their environment, and anything that disrupts that can make them uneasy.

When it comes to water, having to interact with it and not having control over their movement can be extremely distressing for cats. Unlike dogs, who are more comfortable in water, cats excel at the art of balance and agility.

Being submerged in water removes that control, leaving them vulnerable and unhappy.


When cats are wet, their fur sticks to their bodies, which can be extremely uncomfortable. The extra weight also makes it hard for them to move and can interfere with their natural athletic ability.

After getting soaked, cats will typically spend hours grooming themselves to remove any moisture and restore their fur to its natural state.


Some cat owners use the infamous squirt bottle to discipline their pets. But what many pet owners don’t realize is that this practice is detrimental to the cat-owner relationship.

Squirt bottles are not only ineffective, but they also create a negative association with water. If a cat associates water with punishment, it is very unlikely that they will have a positive relationship with it.

Aversion to Scents

Cats are sensitive to scents, particularly chemical ones like those found in tap water. This can make drinking water unpalatable or even cause them to avoid the bowl altogether.

One way to encourage cats to drink more water is by using filtered or bottled water.

Not All Cats Hate Water

While many domesticated cats have an aversion to water, some cat breeds are known for their love of it. Breeds like Bengals, Turkish Vans, Norwegian Forest Cats, and Maine Coon Cats are often touted as natural swimmers due to their genetic predisposition.

It’s important to note, however, that not every cat within these breeds will love water. As with humans, individual cats have their own unique personalities and preferences.

In Conclusion

Cats and water have an interesting relationship. Although cats are not known for their love of water, their behavior is consistent with their evolution and desire for control.

While it’s important to understand why cats may not like water, it’s equally important to remember that there are exceptions to the rule. Understanding your cat’s preferences and tendencies is key to building a healthy and loving relationship with your pet.

Cats and Water: How to Help Your Cat Overcome Its Fear

If you have a cat that hates water, you may find yourself struggling to provide proper grooming and hygiene. Bathing your cat, keeping their water bowl full, and encouraging hydration can be a challenge when your feline friend is reluctant to get wet.

Here are some tips on how to help your cat overcome its fear of water.

Providing Comfortable and Controllable Water Exposure

One of the best ways to help your cat feel more comfortable around water is to provide them with exposure that is both familiar and controllable. This may involve placing a small bowl of water in a location that your cat likes to be in, or investing in a drinking fountain that continuously flows fresh water.

By giving your cat a sense of control over their environment, they are more likely to feel safe and relaxed around water.

Gradually Exposing Young Kittens to Water

If you have a young kitten, it is important to acclimate them to water from a very early age. By gradually introducing small amounts of water during grooming sessions, you can help your kitten become more comfortable with the feeling of being wet.

Start off by using a damp cloth or wet wipe to clean your kitten’s paws and face, and gradually work up to incorporating a small amount of water during bath time.

How to Bathe a Cat Who Hates Water

If you need to bathe your cat, it’s important to create a comfortable environment that will help put them at ease. Before you start, make sure the water temperature is lukewarm and carefully place your cat into the tub, sink, or shower.

If possible, use a showerhead or pitcher to pour water gently over your cat’s body, avoiding their face and ears. Make bath time as brief as possible, and always give your cat plenty of praise and treats for their cooperation.

Once you’re done, carefully wrap your cat in a towel and dry them off as thoroughly as possible.

In Conclusion

Interacting with water can be a stressful experience for many cats. Whether due to evolution, unfamiliarity, discomfort, or lack of control, many cats tend to avoid water at all costs.

However, by providing them with comfortable and controllable water exposure and gradually acclimating them to water from an early age, you can help your cat overcome its fears. If you need to bathe your cat, be sure to create a comfortable environment and proceed gently.

With patience and diligence, you can help your cat build a healthier relationship with water. Cats and water often don’t mix well due to their evolution and aversion to unfamiliar experiences, discomfort, and lack of control.

If you have a cat that hates water, there are ways to help them overcome their fears, such as providing comfortable and controllable water exposure, gradually introducing young kittens to water, and creating a safe and comfortable environment during bathing. Understanding your cat’s behavior and preferences can help you build a healthier and rewarding relationship with them.

Going gently and offering plenty of praise and positive reinforcement can make all the difference in helping your feline companion overcome their fear of water.

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