Why Do Cats Hate Water?

Every cartoon I had ever seen depicting a cat near water always ended in a catastrophe! But even in the real life world some cats dread water! My cat, Mitz would cling to me for dear life when near water and I still have the claw marks in my shoulders to prove it. On the other hand, a dripping faucet mesmerizes cats for some reason and my cat would actually climb into the sink and drink from a dripping faucet! Go figure the feline, eh?

Some Yes, Others No!

The truth of the matter is - some cats hate water and others are okay with what they regard as a troublesome liquid, especially when you consider cats are animals who have instilled within them the instinct of cleanliness.


A cats hatred for water may begin with their fur. A cat's fur does have a water resistant top layer but with a good drenching, that fur can become waterlogged and thus weigh down the cat. This, in turn, means the cat could possibly drown because of the weight and inability to float!

What About The Big Cats?

This waterlogged theory sometimes doesn't hold water however, when we examine the cats in the wild (especially the big cats) and their location which may necessitate swimming in water in order to survive!

In hot locations water can feel cool and refreshing to cats; a relief from the heat. In colder regions water may be avoided entirely because of obvious reasons.

Tigers are one of the big cats that like water. They love taking a swim now and then and they'll definitely hunt down prey that attempt a water escape. As a matter of fact, in India's mangrove forests, the swimming tigers frequenting the area are notorious for their attacks on humans!

Other species of large cat such as Jaguars, lions, and ocelots do not have a dislike for water especially if a meal is involved with getting wet. They will, however, avoid water if predators like alligators are near.

The Fishing Cat

In Asia's wetlands, the medium-sized, endangered 'Fishing Cat' has webbed feet and has been seen catching fish by diving underwater! It lives along rivers and streams and is well adapted to its habitat and as described, is a skilled swimmer.

The House Cat

The domesticated house cats tolerance to water should be left up to the cat (unless you prefer claw marks in your shoulders like me!) Most cats do not need a bath unless they get themselves into sticky or muddy situations, so I'd say don't try giving your cat a bath unless absolutely necessary!

Bath Time Precautions

If a cat bath becomes necessary, I would recommend these precautions from the host of Animal Planet’s “Psycho Kitty” Pam Johnson-Bennett.

1) Wear long sleeves to protect your arms from scratches in the event when or if your cat panics! And remember, wet sleeves are still protection!

2) Trim your cat's nails.

3) Make your cat comfortable with a hose-like attachment that has a steady stream.

4) A rubber mat on the bottom of the tub may make your cat feel more secure.

She goes on to say, "But really, the best thing to do might be to skip the bath all together."

The Bath

Try placing your cat first in an empty tub, then with a reassuring voice and a damp washcloth, pass the washcloth over the cat's fur to dampen. If your cat remains calm, continue on with a pitcher of warm (not hot) water, and slowly pour it over the cat. Continuing on (providing you reach this point) fill the tub with warm water and slowly ease your cat into taking a bath. If you want to use soap, use a specially formulated cat shampoo. Begin with the head to the tail and when rinsing off soap, be certain you wash off all he residue before it affects the skin or is swallowed. Dry your cat with a towel and praise him for such bravery. When finished, make sure you dress your wounds!

Sponge Bath

Another method for washing your cat is using a sponge. A sponge bath may be less traumatic for kitty for removing dirt and stickiness. Again, a shampoo formulated especially for cats is recommended.

With these methods you may get lucky and your cat may realize water will not hurt him and he may even like the bath (but I wouldn't rely on this outcome!)

Cats Have Their Own Ideas!

Cats have their own ideas on what they like and dislike, so maybe letting them decide if they want to be water-friendly is the best way to go. And let's all be thankful our cats keep themselves relatively clean and giving a cat a bath is mostly a rare occasion.

Check out Pets Adviser for more info.

By Tom Matteo