It’s widely known that the majority of cats don’t like water. Their dislike for water is likely linked to their history. Cats were domesticated thousands of years ago in the arid climate of the Middle East.
In a nutshell, cats don’t generally like water because they’re usually not exposed to it. If you have an indoor cat as many people do, he’s probably never been caught in a rainstorm and had to deal with sopping wet skin and fur. Some experts believe that cats have developed an aversion to water simply because their owners have shielded them from the elements.
Cats can be acclimated to water but you have to start getting them used to it when they’re kittens. Here are four proven methods to get your kitten to like water. We’ve numbered the methods because it’s important to introduce your kitten to water gradually, one step at a time, so you don’t scare him.
1. Play with Your Kitten in the Empty Bathtub
A good way to get your kitten to like water or at least tolerate it is to put him in an empty bathtub and play with him. Play using his favorite toy and talk using a low voice. Make this tub time fun for your kitten and do this for a few days. You can reward your kitten after each play session with praise and a tasty treat.
2. Expose Your Kitten to a Damp Washcloth
After your kitten is comfortable being in the empty bathtub, start introducing him to water by rubbing his body with a damp washcloth. Take it slowly and don’t over-wet the cloth. Be sure the washcloth is dampened with warm water so your kitten is not shocked by cold water. Speak calmly using a reassuring tone when rubbing your kitten with the warm damp washcloth. Again, you can reward your kitty with a treat once you’re done with the process.
3. Add Warm Water to the Bathtub
Once your kitten has played in the dry empty tub and has experienced having damp water rubbed on his body, it’s time to place your kitty in some water. Add about an inch of lukewarm water to the bottom of the bathtub and put your kitten in. Do this slowly using a reassuring tone so your kitten is OK with feeling the water on his little feet.
Keep your kitten standing in the shallow warm water for a few minutes so he has time to get used to it. Do not leave your kitten alone in the water or he may panic and try to get out of the tub. Pet your kitty while telling him what a good kitten he is for being in the water.
4. Bathe Your Kitten
Once your kitty is used to standing in the water, scoop some water from the tub with your hand or a cup and slowly wet your kitten’s body. Proceed slowly while speaking quietly and calmly to your kitten. You can shampoo him using a mild pet shampoo and rinse him off thoroughly.
When shampooing your kitten, be gentle and quiet. Take things slowly and be careful not to make any sudden movements or loud noises that could frighten your kitty. Be sure you don’t pour water directly on the kitten’s head and avoid getting water in his ears. Once you’re done with the shampooing and rinsing, remove your kitten from the tub and wrap him up in a warm towel.
Once your kitten learns to like water or at least tolerate it, you may wonder how often you should bathe your kitten. Cats are very good self-groomers that use their rough tongues to clean themselves. However, if your kitten gets himself into a mess, you may need to help him out and bathe him.
If you don’t feel comfortable giving your kitten a bath when he needs it, you can take him to a groomer. While this type of professional service will cost you anywhere from $20 to $50 for a shampoo, rinse, and blow-out, it will be money well-spent. Many groomers will even include ear cleaning and nail clipping in the cat shampoo service.
Don’t expect your kitten to learn to love water because the odds are against that happening. If you follow the methods above, you should be able to get your kitten acclimated to water so he doesn’t learn to fear it. Just take your time, be kind, and don’t do anything that shocks or scares your sweet little kitty cat!
Featured Image Credit: Dmitriy Burmatov, Shutterstock