Cats and dogs are among the most common and most loved pets in the world. If you’ve spent time with both cats and dogs, you are likely to notice some differences in their lifestyle. One of them is how they act around water. Dogs love to swim and bathe themselves. That is not true for cats. In fact, they will do their best to avoid water at all costs. So, if you are wondering if you should give your cat a bath, it is in your best interest if you refrain from it. Cats hate water because of a variety of reasons. We will be looking at some of the best explanations of why do cats hate water. This is for our own education in understanding their behavior and knowing how to act with them.

Before we get into why do cats hate water, let’s look at what type of water they hate. If you have ever left your tap running, it is likely you will see your cat around it. Cats are curious by nature and they have a thing for objects in motion. The running water invokes their curiosity and causes them to investigate it. Even when they are drinking water, they tend to dip their feet in the water and create movement in the water. This is soothing for them and they can drink it easily. Now, let’s talk about what they don’t like at all. They hate being submerged in water. There are many reasons for this. Let’s look at the most common reasons.

Why A Cats Hate Water

Why Do Cats Hate Water


Cats have historically hunted fish from the edge of a lake. They have never had to swim for food. They also don’t need water to clean themselves. They clean themselves by constantly licking their fur and grooming it. So, there was no real reason for them to swim in the water. Historically, they have always taken their food away from the water source as well. This gave the prey fewer chances of escaping. That tendency of not needing to swim gradually evolved into a behavior where they like to completely avoid water.

Now that they are in a home environment and their basic needs of food and protection are taken care of, the reason for swimming has become more non-existential. Had they been in a situation in the past where they would need to swim for food, their bodies would have evolved in that direction and it would have made them better swimmers. The sight of seeing cats swimming wouldn’t have been a rare occurrence then.  But it has gone the other way round and this is the reason why cats have always had the tendency to avoid water.

Nature of Body Fur

While dogs like to wash themselves to keep themselves clean, this isn’t the case for cats. They keep clean by licking themselves and constantly grooming their fur. They don’t need water to clean themselves. They use their rough tongues, saliva, and paws to stay neat and tidy.  They lick their fur much more compared to other animals and the nature of their fur is different. Their fur is composed of smaller hair and this constant licking of fur makes it weaker.

It becomes easy for water to penetrate their skin. This is the reason they don’t like being submerged in water. When they are submerged in water, it clogs up their skin and adds up the weight to their body. This feeling is not natural to them and it affects their ability to move in a speedy manner that they like to. It affects their cat-like reflexes. They also can’t shake off the water as easily as dogs do. So, they are left feeling cold and heavy when they are dipped in water. If your main reason for reading this is to find out why do cats hate water, then this is the primary reason that cats like to avoid water in today’s day and age.

Reduction in Body Temperature

As discussed earlier, water can enter the skin of cats easily. This makes them feel heavy. It also causes their body temperature to drop and makes them feel cold. There is a possibility of cats getting sick if they are submerged in water for long periods.

Strong Sense of Smell

Cats have a much stronger sense of smell than humans. While the water in our household is odorless to us, there are chemicals in it. Cats having their super-strong sense of smell understand that and that adds up to them wanting to avoid water even more.

This doesn’t mean that all cats hate swimming and hate water. If you’re wondering if can cats swim naturally, the answer is yes. Cats can swim if they wanted to. There are some species of cats that love to swim and love spending time in the water. However, most cats would love to avoid water and stay away from it for as long as possible. The way they perceive water is different from ours. We associate water with cleanliness. The opposite is true for them. The fact that water does not necessarily mean cleanliness is a tough concept to grasp for us. When we hear that cats don’t like water, we may think they are dirty by nature. But the definition of cleanliness is different for them. Make no mistake. Cats love to stay clean. Even more than us and they spend most of their time trying to look their best. They lick themselves for hours to stay clean. So, if they are washed with water, it will undo their efforts. It doesn’t go with their lifestyle.

If you have seen pictures of cats who have been submerged in water, you will notice that they don’t come out of it looking good. This is primarily because they see swimming as a waste of energy and they don’t like to be in constant movement. The answer to the question of can cats swim in a pool is yes. They can swim in the pool but they don’t enjoy it. So, if you are thinking of giving your cat a bath, just know that it is not necessary for them. It’s not how they want to stay clean. To be in a bathtub would be a daunting experience for them.

Related: Why Is it That Cats Are Scared of Cucumbers?

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