Why Do Cats Hate Water?

cat bath

Cats definitely have a reputation for disliking water, but do you know why?

There are some interesting reasons behind your kitty’s more-than-mild disdain for this substance.

The more you learn about why your cat dislikes water, the easier it will be to take care of them overall.

Do Some Cats Like Water?

There are in fact many cats that like being submerged in water, including the Maine Coon. This very large cat tends to love water, whether it is drinking from the faucet or going into the tub for a bath.

The Turkish Van is another cat that really likes water quite a bit. These cats have actually been known to really enjoy swimming. If you put one of these kitties in a pool, they’ll likely try to swim just out of instinct.

There is also the Abyssinian, which has a history of loving water in all forms. It doesn’t take much effort to get these cats into the bathtub (most of the time).

Reasons Why Cats Hate Water

While not every single cat hates water, there are some common reasons that most of these animals do.

1. They are Responding to the Scent of the Water

We don’t typically think of water as having a particular scent, but it certainly does for cats. There are numerous chemicals in your tap water, some of which you probably don’t even know about. Tap water has everything from chlorine to fluoride, which gives off a scent for your kitty.

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It is possible that your cat is responding to all of the unpleasant aromas that the water in the bathtub is giving off. These animals have an incredible sense of smell, so they are therefore extremely sensitive to certain aromas.

cat touch water

2. It Makes Them Feel Uncomfortable

The top layer of a cat’s coat is resistant to water, but not when they are fully submerged. Your cat might resist going in the bathtub because it just doesn’t like the feeling of being soaked from head to tail.

There’s also a possibility that the water of the temperature in the tub is a bit too warm or cold. Some cats are very finicky when it comes to this. You should therefore try playing around with the temperature so that it is perfectly lukewarm.

It is difficult for cats to move around when they are completely soaked, which is something most of them do not like. When you consider how much cats love jumping and running around, you can imagine how they’d feel about the restricted movement.

3. Their ancestors come from dry regions

The average domesticated cat’s ancestors come from dry, arid regions of the world. These animals are not accustomed to being submerged in water, historically speaking. There is nothing about this animal’s evolutionary history that has prepared it for dealing with this.

Just think about the African wild cats and the type of region they live in. These are some of the driest places on the planet. It therefore makes sense that your cat would instinctually avoid getting very wet all at once.

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4. They had a Bad Experience Early on

Some cats that were put into a bathtub at too early age develop a severe aversion to water. This is just one of the reasons why you need to know about your cat’s history if you get one from a shelter.

It can be extremely difficult to coax a traumatized cat into a bathtub, but not impossible. Make sure that you are patient with them.

cat angry bath

How to get Your Cat Used to Water

There are plenty of different methods that you can use when it comes to getting your cat used to water so it is more comfortable with it.

1. Take it Slow

When it comes to getting your cat used to taking a bath, you want to start out slow. You definitely don’t want to just toss your cat in. Instead you will need to make a point of dipping them in slowly. Do not try to force your cat to go in at first.

The more gradually you introduce your cat to water, the less likely they are to be afraid of it. It is also important to start doing this from an early age.

2. Let them spend time with you in the tub

Your cat might feel more comfortable taking a bath when you get in first. This can be a good way to initially get them used to this. Once they clearly feel more at ease in the tub, you can start bathing them from the outside.

3. Don’t Bathe Your Cat too Often

You don’t want to bathe your kitty too often, as this can actually dry out their skin and problems with their coat. This also increases the chances of your cat getting tired of the water and wanting to avoid it completely.

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With most cats, you can stick to bathing them only when they are visibly dirty. Cats with very long coats, like Maine Coons, can be bathed once every couple of weeks. This can make brushing their coat a lot easier.


  • There are lots of cats that definitely hate water, but this is not the case with all of them.
  • The Maine Coon and Turkish Van are two cats that are known for actually liking water quite a bit.
  • Many cats don’t like taking a bath because it makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Make sure that the temperature of the water in the bathtub is actually lukewarm before putting your kitty in.
  • Cats often do not like the feeling of being weighed down and soaked when they are in the tub.
  • If your cat was given baths at too early an age, they may be traumatized. This can make it difficult to get them into the tub as an adult.
  • You’ll want to take it slow when introducing your cat to the bathtub. You first want to get them accustomed to being around water.
  • You might want to try getting into the tub first to show your cat that it’s not so bad.
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