Why Do Cats Hate Water?

my cat is scared of water
(Last Updated On: June 23, 2020)

We’ve all come across cats that we have tried to bathe and they meow to the extent of making us feel guilty for wanting to wash them. There are some cats that hate water and some like the Turkish Van cat that loves water though the majority of them hate water.

Though they frequently bathe themselves and you would normally expect them to enjoy taking a bath, most cat breeds detest even the slightest idea of their fur being drenched whether it is through washing or even rain.

There are several reasons why cats hate water which might be behavioral and some biological.

why cats hate water

Reasons for cats hating water

The underlayer fur soaks in a lot of water while the top layer is a bit water resistant.

Your cat gets uncomfortable when the fur becomes water clogged since it causes extra weight, weighing your cat down.

Cats do not like change and new experiences, and behavior wise, cats are easily scared animals and if your cat has never been in contact with water, it is natural for her to hate water.

A cat that has been in contact with water even as a kitten and while growing up will not be uncomfortable when you bath her or when she gets rained on.

Cat yawning


Being fast animals and with the frequent times that they groom themselves, they do not like somebody doing it for them. They are also quite sensitive to smells and hate unusual odors on their fur making them hate the scent of chemicals from tap water and that of soaps and bathing lotions.

Cats that like water

Some cats have no problem with getting into contact with water and you will receive no resistance while bathing them. Cats that live in hot, arid areas generally love the feeling of water on their bodies.

They normally enjoy bathing or swimming which has a cooling and refreshing effect on their bodies due to the soaking of water in their fur. Cats like the Asian fishing cat has additional body features such as partially webbed paws that enable it to dive into the water to catch food.

Other cats just like sitting in water or on the edge of water bodies to catch fish or just splash and paw at streams of water as play time. Cat breeds like the Turkish Van enjoy swimming which led to its nickname “the swimming cat” while larger breeds like jungle cats such as lions like cooling off in water. Cats that live in colder climates don’t like water which causes them to lose heat from their bodies.


Although cats are curious creatures and once in a while, you might notice that your cat might try and stick its paw into water or a running faucet, do not push her into bathing to avoid making it aggressive.

What can you do to bathe a cat?

If you have a kitten, you can train it to get comfortable with water by regularly bathing it and with time, you will have a problem with bathing it when it’s older. Most cats are fascinated by water and you might see your cat staring at a flowing faucet or automatic fountain and splashing it.

You can try and get them used to water gradually. Cats usually groom themselves but you will have to bathe them in an instance when they need to be cleaned for medical reasons or they have something sticky or muddy on them.

my cat is scared of water

Gently get your cat into the water and give her a soft sponge bath. If you are using a tab, you can place a towel for your cut to grip onto due to the slippery nature of a tub floor which might stress out your cat making her irritated.

The water has to be warm and avoid using any additives such as bubble bath. Stroke her slowly while gently placing her in the water.

You can use a specially formulated shampoo for cats and apply it using a sponge or cloth to get her damp.

Carefully pour water over using a container or a faucet. Bathe her from the head to tail, by applying the shampoo and work up the studs, cleaning the skin and fur gently. Be careful with getting the shampoo into the eyes and on the face and rinse it off well leaving no residue which might irritate her skin.

Any dirty marks should be wiped out and then rinse out the cloth and wipe your cat with clean water. Dry her with a clean fluffy cloth or towel and let her groom herself dry afterward.


It is normal for the fur to stand on the ends and claws to come out so don’t be shocked when this happens. If she was used to bathing even as a kitten, you will not have difficulty bathing her but if not be more gentle.


Although some cats might not like water, the above explains why cats hate water and how you can make them like water with time. If you happen to have a kitten, gradually familiarize it with bathing using the above-mentioned steps to get it accustomed.

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