Why Do Cats Hate Water? Tips For Bathing Your Cat

When people think about cat behavior and hygiene, we usually think that they hate or avoid water. Do you know that this is not true for all cats? While most of them hate coming in contact with water, some cats would enjoy a bath. You might wonder, why do cats hate water? Here are the common reasons why most cats hate water.  

Why Do Cats Hate Water

There are several reasons for your cats’ aversion to water. Here are the common reasons why they hate having contact with it.

It Roots Back To Evolution

Cats evolved in a dry environment. This means they have no or less exposure to bodies of water like lakes, rivers, or oceans. They didn’t the chance to learn how to swim because historically, they did not dwell in bodies of water given the environment they lived in. Hence, there’s no evolutionary reason for them to learn how to swim.

It Makes Them Feel Uncomfortable

Imagine walking in the street without an umbrella, and it suddenly started to rain. Wet hair and clothes feel heavy and uncomfortable, right? That’s the same feeling for cats because of their coat. Having wet fur weighs them down, and it takes a while for it to dry. Aside from that, their body drenched in water makes them feel cold, and it limits their movement.

Your Cat Smell The Chemicals Present In The Water

cat near swimming poll

Cats have a heightened sense of smell than humans. Because of that, they can smell the chemicals in the water that we do not normally recognize. Hence, one reason for their aversion to water is that the chemicals they smell in water are different from their coat’s natural smell. They don’t like it when the smell of these chemicals takes off their natural scent. 

They Don’t Like New Experiences

Compared to other animals like dogs, cats don’t prefer new experiences from the things they are used to doing. So if your cat is not used to bathing in the water, your cat will most likely hate coming in contact with it for the first time. But cats may eventually learn to tolerate water if they are getting exposed to it over time. 

Traumatic Experience

Cats don’t typically hold a grudge. But they tend to avoid things that have caused them negative experiences in the past. This can also be one of the reasons for the question, “why do cats hate water?” Scenarios such as falling into the water by accident, getting sprayed on with water, getting soaked in the rain, and other negative experiences can bring back memories in your cat. 

Some Cats Like Water

Despite the mentioned reasons why cats hate water, do you know that some cats love taking a dip?

cat near water faucet

Some cat breeds enjoy getting drenched in water and swimming. Some of these cat breeds are Abyssinian, Maine Coon, and Turkish Van. The Turkish Van loves to swim and is referred to as “the swimming cat.” The Turkish Van is an athletic cat breed both on land and water. They can spend a long time just swimming in the water. So if you have a Turkish Van in your home that has a bathtub, you better watch out on your feline buddy.

The Turkish Van’s love for swimming does not mean they also feel the same for bathing. They can be like the other cats who do not prefer to take a bath. The good thing for their breed is they don’t need frequent baths.

While most cats do not need regular bathing and can groom themselves, there might come a time when you need to bathe your cat. And if the need arises, you can learn tips on to bathe your cat.

Tips For Bathing Your Cat

Since most cats hate water, it may be a struggle if you need to bathe your cat for medical or other valid reasons. With that, here are the tips for bathing your cat.

Before Bath Preparation

  1. Before bathing your cat, make sure to trim its nails to avoid getting yourself scratched. 
  2. Brush your cat’s fur. This is to make sure there’s no soap left in your cat’s fur that may cause irritation. 
  3. Schedule the bath at the right time. If your cat is still in its playful mode, it will likely be a struggle during bath time because it’s still energetic. It’s best to bathe your cat when it’s already tired from playing.
  4. Prepare the things you need within your reach beforehand.
  5. The slippery bottom of a tub or sink can be stressful for a cat. Put a mat or towel on the bottom so your cat has something to hold onto. 

During Bath

  1. Fill the tub or sink with water. The water temperature should be the same as when one bathes a baby.
  2. Put your cat gently into the tub or sink.
  3. Use a pitcher or any small container you have to pour water on your cat’s body. Avoid pouring water on its face.
  4. Apply cat shampoo to the neck, the body, and slowly up to the tail. Avoid applying shampoo on their face and ears. There’s a proper way to clean a cat’s ears.
  5. Rinse off the soap thoroughly.
  6. Clean your cat’s face using a clean cloth and water.
  7. Carry the cat out of the tub or sink, and dry your cat with a big towel. 


Cat behavior is still a mystery to many because of their unique personality. For instance, some cats love attention, while some are distant. Cats love eating fish, but they avoid water. Why do cats hate water? Although some cat breeds love water, there are a variety of reasons why many cats hate water. Fortunately, there are tips to bathe your cat if there is a need to do it.


At The Lovable Cat, we believe that every cat deserves to be loved and cared about.

Quick Links