Why Do Cats Hate Water?
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Why Do Cats Hate Water?

Est. read time: 3 min.

It’s common knowledge that cats simply cannot stand to get wet. But is this commonly held truth accurate, or is it simply another great misconception, like cats’ affinity for drinking milk (another blog on that to come). Well, it’s not quite as cut and dry as the cat-milk relationship, but it is similar in the way that the reality differs from the cartoon-esque representations seen on T.V.

Aversion To Water: It’s All Relative!

Although popular culture leads us to believe that every cat shares an equal and utter aversion to water, this is simply not the case. Animal Planet highlights the housecat’s non-domesticated and significantly larger relatives, and we see that aversion to water is, in some cases, a function of survival designed to limit competition with water-dwelling predators, but in other cases is a complete fallacy, as some wild cats (especially those in hotter climes) seek out water as a means of temperature control and even as a source of food. This diversity exists within the domesticated family of felines, as well, with some breeds not only not minding the water, but actually preferring it. The wild Asian fishing cat is a prime example of felines using water as a habitat, and the domesticated Turkish Van breed is simply drawn to the water for purposes of cooling down, after many generations of living in the heat.

Watch, Play, But Do Not Submerge

So, while some cats tolerate or even favor a dip in a body of water, others, particularly of the domesticated variety, are not so much inclined to take a full plunge, but are immensely fascinated by the drip, drip, drip of a faucet or even just the still water in their bowl. Animal Planet suggests that even the more timid cats are highly interested in the water that doesn’t imminently threaten to consume them entirely. Something about swinging a paw through a completely non-threatening bit of water just sends some housecats into a tizzy. For those cats that are fascinated so, a recirculating water fountain may be a good, entertaining way to encourage them to drink enough water.

The Much Dreaded Bath Time

Now, the reason for most cats’ aversion to water is actually quite simple. Most domesticated, indoor housecats just never have a great deal of exposure to more water than is typically found in their bowls. And although cats are far better than dogs at grooming themselves, they still may require a bath every once in a while. So, the best way to limit your cat’s freak-out when bath time rolls around is to slowly, but from an early age, begin to acclimate your kitty to getting its coat wet. This can be done with a damp, warm washcloth at first, and then by slowly introducing a basin and a pitcher of warm (not hot, just warm) water, pouring from head to tail until your cat’s coat is saturated. Then, you can add cat-friendly shampoo to the mix, working it to suds and then carefully and thoroughly rinsing it out, to ensure that your cat isn’t left with any skin-irritating residue or any potentially tummy-upsetting soap on its coat. Otherwise, just get your cat wet and do it often and you’ll find that bath time isn’t quite the nightmare that the cartoons suggest it to be.