We’ve all seen the memes and videos: a cat encountering water and reacting as if it’s been asked to walk on hot coals. This leads us to the The Age-Old Mystery of Cats and Water. Why do so many cats hate it?

The Historical Relationship Between Cats and Water

Cats in Ancient Civilizations

In ancient Egypt, cats were revered and often lived in close proximity to water sources like the Nile. However, their disdain for water could have developed later, given the lack of evidence of aquatic feline activities in historical records.

Why Most Cats Hate Water

Sensory Overload

Cats have highly sensitive skin and fur, making the experience of being wet overwhelming for their senses.

Dislike for Wet Fur

Cats spend a significant amount of time grooming. Wet fur disrupts this process and can be uncomfortable.

Temperature Sensitivity

Cats prefer a consistent body temperature. Water, especially if it’s cold, disrupts that comfort zone.

The Exceptions to the Rule

Breeds That Love Water

Some cat breeds, like the Turkish Van, actually enjoy swimming.

Individual Preferences

Like humans, some cats are just born outliers and enjoy water.

The Psychological Aspects

The Role of Early Exposure

Cats exposed to water at a young age are less likely to be afraid of it.

Emotional Triggers

For some cats, water may trigger traumatic memories, especially for rescue animals.

The Dangers of Forcing Cats into Water

Potential Health Risks

Forcing a cat into water can lead to stress and even injury for both the cat and the owner.

Alternatives to Bathing Cats

Wipe-Downs and Cat Shampoos

There are numerous grooming products designed to clean your cat without the need for immersion in water.

Tips for Making Water Less Scary

Gradual Introduction

Using treats and positive reinforcement can make the experience more enjoyable for your feline friend.


The aversion many cats have toward water is a complex issue, influenced by sensory preferences, individual experiences, and sometimes, emotional triggers. Understanding these factors can help us be more compassionate and effective caregivers to our quirky fur babies.


  1. Can I ever train my cat to like water?
    • It’s possible through gradual exposure, but some cats may never be comfortable with it.
  2. Is it cruel to bathe my cat?
    • Not necessarily, but pay attention to your cat’s stress signals and opt for alternative grooming methods if it’s causing distress.
  3. Are there any health benefits to a cat bathing in water?
    • In some cases, a medicinal bath may be prescribed for skin conditions, but generally, cats groom themselves adequately.
  4. Do big cats like lions and tigers hate water too?
    • Interestingly, many big cats, like tigers, enjoy swimming and are good at it.
  5. How often should I attempt to bathe my cat?
    • Most cats rarely need baths unless they are dirty or have a medical condition requiring it.

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