Why, Oh Why, Does My Cat Hate Water?

Why, Oh Why, Does My Cat Hate Water?

It’s no secret that cats don’t like water. If you’ve ever tried to give one a bath, you know it’s no easy feat. It’s almost like your furry friend would prefer stepping into a pool of molten lava over getting drenched. The question is, why do cats hate water so much? 

Why Do Most Cats Hate Water?

While some breeds, like the Turkish Van, may enjoy playing in water, most cats don’t. The following are some of the many reasons your furry friend may act possessed when wet:

A Genuine Fear: If you’ve never given your cat a bath, fear of the unknown can be a driving factor in doing everything possible to escape the impending threat. Past negative experiences with water can also draw a fear response that can last for life. 

Feeling Vulnerable: A cat’s coat weighs a whole lot more when wet, interfering with its reflexes and agility, and making it difficult to escape potential predators. Moreover, struggling to maintain balance in a slippery tub can leave your cat feeling threatened and agitated. 

Strange Scents: Cats are clean creatures who spend a good amount of their day grooming themselves. Most cats aren’t fans of new or peculiar smells on their coats. Chemicals in water, like chlorine or the scent of your favorite pet shampoo, can put your furry companion off bath time for good. 

Lack of Control: Your curious cat may feel playful around a dripping water faucet from the safety of dry land. However, dealing with a tub full of water, a soggy coat, or shampoo in their eyes can trigger a fight or flight response, leaving you and your feline friend in distress. 

Evolutionary History: There is not much in the history of cats that draws them to water. Domestic cats’ ancestors lived in dry, arid deserts, so they never had the need to learn to swim. A cat’s evolutionary history hasn’t done much to prepare it for a bathtub, hence the obvious distress. 

What If You Must Bathe Your Cat?

The good news is that cats are excellent at grooming themselves, so you won’t likely need to bathe your furry friend. However, there are rare circumstances when a cat needs a bath, like after having diarrhea, dealing with fleas, or an unexpected skunk attack. Additionally, aging and medical concerns can interfere with your cat’s grooming abilities, necessitating occasional baths. 

If you must bathe your cat, it’s best to be prepared. Fill up the tub ahead of time to limit the sound of running water, and line the tub with a towel to provide a non-skid surface. It’s always a good idea to trim your cat’s nails before bath time for your protection. 

Choose a gentle, approved cat shampoo to bathe your feline friend. Be extra careful to avoid getting any product in your cat’s eyes. Gently lather all around, doing your best not to miss any area, then carefully rinse your furry friend. The last step is drying your cat well, soaking up as much water as possible.

If you’ve got this far, congratulations. If not, don’t despair. You are not alone. Bathing a cat can be challenging for the most experienced pet parents. With patience, perseverance, and a good sense of humor, you’ll be a pro before you know it!

Need More Tips? 

If you need more cat bathing tips, your trusted team at All About Cats Veterinary Hospital in Kirkland, WA, is here to help. We also provide preventive services and ongoing care to prevent or treat conditions that may necessitate bathing your cat. You can always count on us for trusted care for your feline friend because, after all, we are all about cats!

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