Why Do Cats Hate Water? Exploring the Reasons and Solutions

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Have you ever wondered why cats seem to have an aversion to water? While wild big cats like tigers and jaguars are often seen swimming or relaxing in rivers, house cats have gained a reputation for despising water. But is this reputation accurate?

In this blog post, we will delve into the reasons why cats hate water and explore the fascinating world of feline hydrophobia.

Just like in any species, there are bound to be cats that dislike water. However, on the flip side, some cats surprisingly enjoy being in the water.

These two sides each have their reasons. Cats who dislike water tend to have a distaste for new experiences and are often put off by how water makes them feel.

On the other hand, many cats who like water seem to have distinct advantages compared to their counterparts, including the unique texture of their fur.

So, if you’re curious about your cat’s relationship with water, keep reading as we unravel the mysteries behind their aquatic aversion.

Why do cats have an aversion to water?

While many people assume that all cats hate water, the truth is that not all cats share the same distaste for getting wet. However, it’s true that a majority of cats do exhibit an aversion to water. So, why do cats have this strong dislike for water? Let’s explore some possible reasons:

1. Genetic Predisposition: Cats, especially domesticated ones, come from big cat ancestors who typically live in locations with limited access to water. This suggests that cats may be genetically predisposed to dislike water simply because their ancestors didn’t have much exposure to it. This genetic inheritance could explain why many cats instinctively avoid getting wet.

2. Sense of Smell: Cats have an incredibly strong sense of smell. They are capable of smelling substances in the water that humans might not even be aware of. This means that they can detect the chemicals we use to treat our water, which could potentially make them feel aversion towards it. Their heightened sense of smell may contribute to their dislike of water.

3. Sensation and Temperature: Cats are known for being highly sensitive to touch and temperature. Water can cause a drastic change in their fur’s texture and temperature, leading to discomfort and distress. Their dislike of water could be a natural response to the unfamiliar sensations and the sudden change in their physical state.

While these factors may provide some explanations for cats’ aversion to water, it’s important to note that not all cats hate water. There are certain breeds, such as the Maine Coon, Turkish Van, Abyssinian, Bengal, and Norwegian Forest Cat, that possess a unique hair texture that makes them more water-resistant. These breeds often enjoy water activities and don’t exhibit the same level of aversion as other cats.

The aversion that most cats have towards water can likely be attributed to a combination of genetic predisposition, heightened sense of smell, and sensitivity to touch and temperature. However, it’s essential to remember that each cat is unique, and there are exceptions to the general dislike of water, especially among certain breeds. Understanding cats’ aversion to water can help us approach their care and interactions with them more effectively.

The difference between wild cats and house cats when it comes to water

When it comes to water, there is a marked difference between wild cats and house cats. Domestic cats, as we know them today, are descendants of African wildcats that originated in arid climates with very few large bodies of water like rivers and lakes. This explains why most domestic cats have an aversion to water.

Wild cats never needed to learn how to swim, and even after almost 10,000 years of domestication, this instinct to avoid water persists. It is a genetic predisposition that has been passed down through generations. The absence of exposure to water in their natural habitat has shaped their behavior when it comes to water-related activities.

While wild cats actively avoid water, house cats take their behavior to another level. Even the sight or sound of running water can send them scurrying away. This is because domestic cats lack the ability to control water. A small drip from a tap or a shallow puddle might not be a big deal, but the idea of facing a large body of water, like a raging river, seems overwhelming to them.

Moreover, water can have a physical impact on cats. Their luxurious, fluffy coats, which we love to stroke, have a tendency to soak up water like a sponge. This makes their fur heavy and cumbersome, affecting their agility and making them feel vulnerable to attack. Cats instinctively associate a wet coat with being unable to escape from danger quickly, triggering their survival mechanism.

Additionally, wet fur takes a long time to dry, which can be uncomfortable for cats. It also lowers their body temperature, making them feel cold quickly. Water in a cat’s eyes and ears can also impair their ability to assess nearby threats, leaving them more exposed to potential enemies.

Understanding these differences between wild cats and house cats when it comes to water can help us better care for and interact with our feline friends. It’s important to be mindful of their aversion to water and to avoid subjecting them to situations that cause distress. Respect their instincts and provide alternative methods for grooming, such as regular brushing, to ensure their coats remain clean and healthy.

Reasons why cats dislike water

There are several reasons why cats tend to have an aversion to water. Understanding these reasons can help you better care for your feline friend and avoid unnecessary stress. Here are some factors that contribute to cats’ dislike of water:

  1. Genetic Predisposition: Cats’ ancestors, such as the African wildcat, originated in arid climates where water was scarce. Over time, this genetic predisposition has been passed down to domestic cats, making them less inclined to enjoy water-related activities.
  2. Heightened Sense of Smell: Cats have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell. When their fur gets wet, it can disrupt their ability to pick up scents from their environment. This can make cats feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.
  3. Sensitivity to Touch and Temperature: Cats are known for their sensitivity to touch. When their fur gets wet, it can feel heavy and uncomfortable against their skin. Additionally, water can lower a cat’s body temperature, which can be distressing for them.
  4. Fear of the Unknown: Cats are creatures of habit and tend to be wary of new experiences. Water is unfamiliar to them, and the sound and movement of running water can be unsettling. This fear of the unknown can intensify their dislike of water.
  5. Cumbersome Fur: Cats have a natural grooming instinct and take pride in their cleanliness. When their fur gets wet, it becomes heavy and difficult to manage. Wet fur takes a long time to dry, which can make cats feel anxious and uncomfortable.

Understanding these reasons behind cats’ aversion to water can help you create a more cat-friendly environment and find alternative ways to keep your cat clean and hydrated. Remember, not all cats hate water, and there are certain cat breeds, such as the Maine Coon and the Turkish Van, that actually enjoy water activities. As a cat owner, it’s important to respect your cat’s preferences and provide them with the care and environment that makes them feel safe and comfortable.

Cats who enjoy being in water – the exceptions

While it is true that most cats have an aversion to water, there are a few exceptions to this general rule. Some cat breeds and individual cats actually enjoy being in water. These feline water enthusiasts have unique qualities that allow them to embrace water activities without discomfort.

1. Abyssinians and Bengals:

Abyssinians and Bengals are known for their fearless and adventurous nature. These breeds tend to be more open-minded when it comes to water and may even seek out opportunities to splash around. Their curiosity and confidence enable them to enjoy water activities rather than avoid them.

2. Maine Coons:

Maine Coons, with their long, thick coats, have a natural advantage when it comes to water resistance. Their water-repellent fur allows them to keep dry even in wet conditions. This breed is more inclined to tolerate water and might even find it enjoyable.

3. Turkish Van – The Swimming Cat:

The Turkish Van is a rare breed known for its love of water. Often referred to as the “swimming cat,” these felines possess a unique and water-resistant coat. They not only tolerate water but also actively engage in swimming. This breed’s natural affinity for water sets them apart from their feline counterparts.

It is important to note that while there are exceptions to the general dislike of water among cats, these breeds still represent a minority. The majority of cats exhibit a natural aversion to water due to genetics and other factors previously discussed. The exceptions serve as a reminder that individual personalities and unique traits can influence a cat’s preferences and behaviors.

Understanding these exceptions can help cat owners appreciate the diversity among feline companions and provide insight into the various ways that cats interact with their environment. Whether your cat enjoys splashing around or prefers to stay dry, it is crucial to respect their individual preferences and create an environment that aligns with their needs and comfort.

By recognizing the exceptions to the rule, you can gain a deeper understanding of the complex and fascinating nature of our feline friends.

As part of the ongoing article, this section provides insight into the cat breeds that defy the general aversion to water. Highlighting these exceptions allows readers to see the variety in feline behavior and emphasizes the importance of accommodating individual preferences.

The unique texture of a cat’s fur and its role in water aversion

Have you ever wondered why cats seem to have an inherent dislike for water? One of the key factors contributing to this aversion lies in the unique texture of a cat’s fur. Let’s explore how the texture of their fur plays a role in their reaction to water.

To begin with, cats have fur that is not naturally waterproof. Unlike the fur of other animals, such as otters or ducks, a cat’s fur is not designed to repel water. In fact, their furry coats actually absorb water instead of deflecting it. This means that when cats come into contact with water, their fur becomes heavier, making their bodies less nimble and restricting their ability to move freely.

Moreover, wet fur can cause a cat to lose body heat and subsequently expend more energy to maintain their internal temperature. Cats are known for their ability to conserve heat, and excess moisture from wet fur can disrupt this delicate balance. Therefore, it is not surprising that cats instinctively try to avoid getting wet, as it can be uncomfortable and potentially put their well-being at risk.

Additionally, the texture of a cat’s fur plays a significant role in their dislike for water due to the time it takes for their coats to dry. Unlike human hair, which has a relatively quick drying time, a cat’s fur can take a considerable amount of time to dry completely. This means that if a cat becomes wet, they will be stuck with the uncomfortable sensation of damp fur for a prolonged period. Just imagine how you would feel if you had to sit around in wet clothes all day! It’s no wonder cats will go to great lengths to avoid such an unpleasant experience.

The unique texture of a cat’s fur contributes to their aversion to water. Their furry coats are not naturally waterproof, causing their fur to become heavier and decreasing their mobility when wet. The slow drying time of their fur adds to their discomfort, making them even more determined to avoid getting wet. Understanding these factors can help cat owners create a more cat-friendly environment that respects their pets’ preferences and ensures their comfort.


Now you know why cats have such an intense dislike for water. Their genetic predisposition, heightened sense of smell, sensitivity to touch and temperature, fear of the unknown, and discomfort of wet fur all contribute to their aversion. Additionally, the unique texture of a cat’s fur, which is not naturally waterproof, makes wet fur heavy and restricts their mobility. The slow drying time of their fur only adds to their discomfort.

Understanding these factors is crucial for cat owners who want to create a cat-friendly environment that respects their pets’ preferences and ensures their comfort. By providing alternative methods for keeping your cat clean, such as regular grooming and using waterless shampoos, you can maintain your cat’s hygiene without causing unnecessary stress. Remember to always approach water-related activities with caution and respect your cat’s boundaries.

By adapting to your cat’s aversion to water, you can strengthen the bond between you and your feline friend and ensure a happy and stress-free environment for both of you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do cats actually like milk?

Cats love the taste of milk because it is high in fat. They will often choose to drink it even if it results in an upset stomach. If your cat is fed a high quality, balanced diet they do not need the extra fat from drinking milk, no matter how much they like it.

Do cats actually hate water?

While it’s true that many cats dislike being in water, there are some for which this isn’t the case. A feline’s breed can play a big part in whether they have an affinity, as can their early experiences.

Why are cats afraid of foil?

Aluminum foil also has some unique properties that make it particularly alarming to cats upon their first encounter. When moved, bent, or stepped on, the foil has a very distinct high-pitched crinkling sound. Crinkling aluminum foil actually emits a sound so high-pitched that it reaches into the ultrasonic range.

How long do house cats live?

The average lifespan for a pet cat is probably around 13 to 14 years. However, although their lifespan varies, a well cared for cat may commonly live to 15 or beyond, some make it to 18 or 20 and a few extraordinary felines even pass 25 or 30 years of age.

Is it cruel to bathe cats?

Only bathe your cat for non-medical reasons if absolutely necessary, and certainly not more than once a month. Bathing your cat too often can disrupt the normal oils on your cat’s skin and can cause skin irritation.

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