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Why Do Cats Hate Water?

Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

Despite the fact that they are very clean animals, cats are notorious for not liking water. And since in our world, water equals cleanliness, many people ask themselves why do cats hate water. Well, it’s not like they need bathing anyway, since they keep clean by grooming themselves very well all the time, but we’re still left wondering what are the reasons behind.

This assumption isn’t true for all cats though, as there are cases in which the opposite happens, but for most cats, water is something they run away from. Is this a learned behavior or does it have to do with some biological reasons? Well, let’s find out more about that.

Do Cats Hate Water?

We bet you’ve seen countless of YouTube videos in which cats accidentally fell into a water filled bath tub and then struggled like crazy to get out of there ASAP. Maybe you’ve even tried to bath your little feline friend as well. Chances are you got the same result. So what’s wrong? Do cats hate water?

Evolutionary speaking, it’s not like they hate it, but cats never had to deal with water in the way of chasing prey through swimming or diving into a pond or lake so they never developed a need to get into the water. There simply was no need to be adapted to a water environment.

There are exceptions to this though, as is the case with the Turkish Van cat breed, which apparently loves to take a swim now and then. The breed originated in the Lake Van area in Turkey and because of the hot summers there, those cats used to bathe in the lake during extreme heat to cool themselves off.

Apart from that, some cat owners state that their cats love water. That occurs when the cat in question was exposed to water since she was a kitten, so it’s a learned behavior. Some cats are even curious about water dripping from a tap or from the shower head and may try to insert their paws into it, but they won’t jump in for a swim.

Why Do Cats Hate Water?

The main reason is the evolutionary one, as most cats and cat breeds lived in dry areas and never had to adapt to a water environment.

Besides that, there are other reasons as well. Their fur coat is very sensitive, and if submerged, it will become waterlogged and weigh down on the cat, making her very uncomfortable. What’s more, cats are very sensitive to odors, so anything that will mess up the scent of their fur will likely be avoided at all costs. So bathing a cat might mean more grooming work for her to get her fur’s scent back to ‘normal’.

Some specialists even say that across the centuries, most cat owners have shielded their furry friends from the elements and that behavior has been passed on from cat to cat.

As a conclusion, pay attention to your cat’s reaction to water and take the baby steps approach on the matter, but never try to bathe your furry little friend because he or she doesn’t need it.

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