If you’ve ever wanted a cat that will play in the water with you, a Bengal is your choice! A survey done of Bengal cat owners showed that around 79.7% of Bengals are known to play with water so frequently that it becomes problematic for the owners. Some owners have even documented that their Bengal cat will jump into the shower with them to play.
While most people assume that all cats hate water, that isn’t true. Domestic cats tend to dislike water, and there are many theories as to why, but even different breeds of domestic cats have differing opinions on bathing. Some cats, like Bengals, even like the water and will enjoy romping and playing in the water to cool down on hot days.
Why Do Cats Hate Water?
There are many theories revolving around why cats hate water so much. It’s hard to say exactly what causes cats to be so averse to moisture since they can’t very well open their mouths and tell us. Still, we can make our best guesses based on the environmental factors of getting wet.
It’s unclear where the exact point of cat domestication began. However, the widest spread domestication of cats started more than five thousand years before the common era in the area we now know as Egypt.
The ancient Egyptians domesticated the endemic wild cats attracted to the Egyptians’ food stores and the small animals often found around civilizations. This domestication process took place mainly by accident as the ancient Egyptians began feeding the cats to thin out the rodent population rather than as a bid to win their favor.
The sands of the desert are an unforgiving place, and there’s not much water out there. So, it’s safe to say that the area is not a water park paradise where our cats’ ancestors would have gotten used to a regular water bath.
The Passage of Time
Cats have also been in the process of domestication since 7500 BCE. That means that in the year 2022, cats have been domesticated for over 9000 years. Domestication can be achieved in as few as five generations. So, it’s safe to say that cats have lived a comfortable life for quite some time.
This doesn’t just mean that cats would be more adjusted to living with humans; it also means they’ll have adjusted to living without certain dangers, stimuli, and needs—like crossing a body of water. Indoor-only cats don’t need to run through a river to escape a predator or catch a fish to survive. So, they have little to no experience with water.
Everyone knows that the unknown is scary, and there are no words we can offer our cats to make them feel less afraid of the water when they’ve had several thousand years without having to experience it.
Being Wet is Uncomfortable
One reason that has been given for why cats hate water is the simple factor of what wet fur feels like. Most people don’t like to walk around in wet clothes. When we go for a swim, we do our best to strip down as much as legally possible, and cats feel similarly about walking around with wet fur.
Wet fur isn’t aerodynamic or comfortable. Your cat would struggle to hunt or even move around if they walked around with damp fur all the time. Forget running from a predator; your cat probably feels vulnerable and scared when they’re wet because being wet impairs their ability to take care of and protect themselves.
Finally, most cats aren’t introduced to water in a neutral environment. Many cats’ first introduction to water is falling into a sink or bathtub. That would be scary for anyone if they’d never been wet before!
For many cats, this initial shock factor is more than enough to turn them off from investigating bodies of water forever. However, Bengal cats suffer none of these issues.
Why Bengal Cats Like Water
Bengal cats are famous because they’re genealogically similar to wild cats. They’re the latest in a line of cat-breeding experiments that aim to produce the closest thing you can get to keep a wild cat indoors because the first thing we think of when we see a leopard is whether it would do well in our living rooms.
This ancestral closeness undoubtedly has its hand in why Bengal cats are so quick to get their paws wet. Wild cats don’t shy away from water, and many big cats can be seen taking a dip in a nearby lake to cool down on hot days.
Bengal cats being so close in the bloodline to their wild ancestors speaks volumes as to whether they’d be open to the idea of getting wet. Their immediate wild ancestors would have instilled in them a sense of water and encouraged them to play and cross bodies of water so they would have the skill if they ever needed it. They’re not almost 9000 years removed from their wild ancestry and the needs of the wild.
Are There Other Cats Who Like Water?
There are several breeds of cats that you can bring home that enjoy playing with and in bodies of water. Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cats, Turkish Vans, and Abyssinians are all known for their love for the water.
Notably, all the other cats who enjoy the occasional dip are cats who have water-resistant fur. The water sheds out of their fur when these cats get wet instead of saturating the fibers.
Since the cats don’t become saturated with water that makes them heavy, they don’t tend to hate water with the same fervor as their non-resistant companions do.
Bengals don’t have water-resistant fur, but their wild heritage makes them more open to the idea of playing in the water. If we encourage them to play with and enjoy the water, we’ll be able to keep playing with them in the water.
Bengals are a true water cat breed. Their wild heritage makes them fearless when braving the tides, especially compared to their more strictly domesticated counterparts. They may not have water-resistant fur, but that will never stop them from having some fun in the water with you!
Featured Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay