Why Are Cats Scared of Water?

Written by Shopify API


Posted on July 03 2018

Wet cat in the bathCats are known for their cleanliness and personal hygiene. However, the vast majority of cats are not good with water and since they do so much self-grooming they rarely need baths – unlike dogs. Many cat owners very quickly find out that their cats are scared of water and don’t like baths; some will get angry which will result in them clawing, scratching or even biting their way free. Although, it isn’t just baths that cats don’t like – they will stay away from pools, rivers and any type of water that they may encounter on their travels. Not all cats are known to hate water though, as cats in hot, dry climates enjoy a little water to cool them down whilst cats in colder climates will stay well away as it causes them to lose body heat.


The top layer of a cat’s coat has some slight water resistance but if the coat becomes completely soaked it will become quite heavy and this will make your cat feel like he can’t move freely and feel as fast. Cats like to know that they can get out of any uncomfortable situation at any moment so feeling slow and heavy makes them fret and feel vulnerable. Unlike humans, cats maintain a higher body temperature, so they find it harder to stay warm so having heavy and wet fur is extremely cold for them.


Cats sense of smell is even better than any dogs or humans. They can smell any minerals or chemicals that may be in tap water and this will put them off going anywhere near it.


It has been known that some cats that come from watery areas like the water. The Turkish Van which originates from Turkey, where there is a big lake, love swimming and playing in the water. Cats from this area would swim out to the fishing boats to their humans and keep the rodents off the boats and eat the fish.

Can You Teach Your Cat to Enjoy the Water?

Wet cat in the bath It may be possible that you can teach your cat to like and enjoy the water and baths. There are a few steps that you can follow to make this possible – once each step is completed successfully make sure that you praise your cat with treats as a reward.

  1. Expose them to baths when they are a kitten. The earlier in life that they are introduced to water and the bath then they may learn to like them.
  2. Get your kitten used the place you wish to bathe them, whether this be the sink, a tub or the bath. Place a few of their favourite toys in this area to encourage them to get in.
  3. Once they are comfortable in the area you are bathing then fill with just an inch of water – be careful not to add much as you don’t want to spook them.
  4. Do step 3 a few times over several weeks until your cat feels comfortable enough to splash around.
  5. When you try to place your cat in the real bath it would be ideal to get a slip proof mat to place on the bottom so that your cat feels steady and prevents him from slipping.
  6. Don’t use too much restraint on your cat so that they don’t feel uncomfortable.
  7. Use a towel to dry and provide a warm place for them to finish drying. It would be best to avoid drying them with a hairdryer.