Why Do Cats Hate Water?

It is well-known that cats hate water. If you’ve ever tried to give your feline friend a bath, you may have wondered why.

If you watch nature documentaries or spend time at a zoo, you may have seen large cats (like lions and tigers) playing in the water or running into it to catch prey.

In general, domesticated cats are not as comfortable getting wet as their wild counterparts.

Most domesticated cats will go to great lengths to avoid stepping in a puddle of water or getting their fur wet.

Why do cats hate water?

Experts have a few theories, so keep reading to learn more about why cats hate water and decide for yourself which theory you believe.

Why Do Cats Hate Water?

why do cats hate water1. It’s in their genes

The first cats were found in areas like Southeast Asia and Egypt. They were discovered in dry climates with limited access to rivers, lakes, and oceans.

If their ancestors didn’t often need to navigate in and around water, their skills in this area were likely limited.

Fast-forward tens of thousands of years, and the domesticated cats that we know and love still lack many skills related to water.

For this reason, cats are uneasy around water and prefer to avoid it.

Likewise, wild cats don’t need to drink as much water as other animals.

While most animals seek water, wild cats obtain a large amount of their water intake from the prey they consume.

You may see your kitty companion turn his nose up at his water bowl more often than not.

We need to be careful because this natural instinct can cause our cats to become dehydrated quickly.

Be sure your cat has access to clean water at all times.

You may also want to try a pet water fountain to entice him to drink or supplement his dry kibble with wet food to ensure he’s getting enough water in his diet.

2. It makes them uncomfortable

Cats spend a lot of time grooming. Wet fur is not only uncomfortable, but it also takes a long time to dry.

This means your cat can’t groom himself and get back to feeling comfortable for hours after he gets wet.

Wet fur is also much heavier than dry. The added weight is not only uncomfortable; it makes your cat feel weighed down and less agile.

scared cat3. Fear

Cats are creatures of habit. If you give a small kitten a bath once a week, he will become more comfortable with it over time.

Most cats, however, don’t get bathed more than a few times in their lifetime (if at all).

The fear of the unknown is a powerful force that drives your cat’s dislike of water.

Similarly, if your cat has had a bad experience with water in the past, he’ll likely be very scared of it going forward.

For example, if your kitty was ever forced to bathe due to a flea infestation, he probably has a negative association with water.

4. They don’t like the smell

Cats have an incredibly powerful sense of smell. While most water has no odor to us, cats can smell the chemicals and minerals in your tap water.

This strange smell prompts your cat to avoid water.

Water also strips the natural oils from his coat, and your pet wants to smell like himself, not like the pungent odor of chemicals in your water.

Why do some cats play with water from the faucet?

Now that you know why cats hate water, you may be wondering why your cat likes to play with water dripping or trickling from the faucet.

Cats are naturally curious and playful creatures. Playing with water from the faucet is a harmless and fun activity for many cats.

They can sit comfortably on dry land while batting and experimenting with the small amount of water coming from your faucet.

They don’t see this as a threatening activity because they can stay dry (for the most part), and the water coming from the faucet is 100% predictable and within their control.

READ NEXT: Why Do Cats Knead?

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.