Excited Cats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

Why Are Cats Afraid Of Water? Facts & FAQ

Many cat owners have witnessed the displeasure that some cats derive from getting wet or being doused in water. While some cats like and even love water, for most owners, we really only see whether a cat loves or loathes water when we have to bathe them or when they fall in a bath. In these cases, the cat will react negatively.

What’s more, because cats are rarely exposed to water, they do not know how to react and have no idea what to do in the water. Their reason for disliking water can usually be chalked up to lack of exposure to it.

Interestingly enough, domestic cats have partially webbed feet. Some breeds like the Turkish Van will go out of their way to find and play in the water, and cats apparently have an inherent love of fish, so it is possible to desensitize a cat to water. Doing so may mean that your cat learns to love it.

cat paw divider

Minimal Exposure

The most likely cause of a cat’s fear of water is a lack of exposure. Cats are naturally clean animals. We do not need to bathe them, and we are discouraged from doing so in all but the most extreme circumstances because regular bathing can destroy the natural protective oils in your cat’s coat.

This means that your cat will be exposed to pools of water very rarely, so it will have no idea what to do when it is confronted by a bath or even a sink full of water. With regular exposure, your cat may not react in the same way.

Bad Experience

Persian cat bathing
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

A cat’s fear of water may be learned. They may have had one or more negative experiences with water, in the past, and it could be you that has exacerbated the situation, even though you didn’t mean to. This could have happened if you bathed your cat.

Your cat will remember the experience, which means that they will have learned that water has negative connotations. Alternatively, they may have fallen in ponds, slid in baths, or suffered in water in some other way.

Why Do Cats Hate Water But Love Fish?

It is a common misconception that fish make a staple part of a cat’s natural diet. In the wild, cats would rarely, if ever, eat fish.

What’s more, regularly eating fish can have a detrimental effect on a cat’s health, because fish does not contain thiamine, and this can only be acquired through diet.

So, not all cats hate water, and while domestic cats might like fish, very few breeds would eat them in the wild, and doing so could be bad for them.

3 cat face divider

The 6 Cat Breeds That Love Water

Not all cats hate water. In fact, there are some breeds that not only put up with getting a bit wet but openly and genuinely seem to enjoy going for a dip.

1. Maine Coon

cream tabby ginger maine coon cat playing with lawn_Nils Jacobi_shutterstock
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

The Maine Coon is something of a beast of a cat breed and is widely accepted as being the largest domestic breed. Maine Coons typically weigh up to 20 pounds, with exceptional examples weighing more than 30 pounds. They are known as gentle giants, because they are loving and friendly cats, despite their size. They also tend to be fascinated by water and will splash around in sinks and baths and even learn to swim in ponds and other water sources, if given the opportunity.

thematic break

2.  Turkish Van

Turkish_Van Cat
Image Credit: Katzenfee50, Pixabay

The Turkish Van is nicknamed the swimming cat because of its natural love of water. Legend has it that the Turkish Van swam ashore from Noah’s Ark.

Hailing from Turkey, this breed is not afraid to jump in the local lake or even swimming pool as a means of cooling down in the baking hot temperatures of the country. Their fur is water repellent, which means that it is not as uncomfortable for the Turkish Van to get wet as it is for other breeds.

thematic break

3. Turkish Angora

Turkish Angora Cat
Image Credit: Markovski Hristijan, Shutterstock

There’s something about Turkish breeds that means they are not only skilled but happy in the water. The Turkish Angora is a long-coated cat that will get in the shower or bath with you if given the opportunity. If not given the opportunity, the Angora will make do with the toilet bowl, dirty pond, or sink.

This intelligent breed is loving and eager to please, too, so is considered one of the easier breeds to train.

thematic break

4. Savannah

kitten breed Savannah_Kolomenskaya Kseniya_shutterstock
Image Credit: Kolomenskaya Kseniya, Shutterstock

The Savannah is a large cat breed. It has big ears, a long neck, and long legs, which may make it easier for the breed to swim. The Savannah is another breed that will swim in pools and other clean water sources but will make do with dirty ponds and toilet bowls if necessary.

thematic break

5. Bengal

bengal cat sitting outdoors
Image Credit: Gidon Pico, Pixabay

The Bengal looks like a wild cat, and with good reason, it was first bred from an Asian leopard cat. While the modern domestic equivalent may be at least four or five generations away from its wild ancestors, it retains many of the habits and capabilities. This includes the Bengal’s love of water. This breed not only excels on the ground and in trees, but it enjoys playing in and around the water, too.

thematic break

6. Manx

cream tabby manx cat
Image Credit: Helen E. Grose, Shutterstock

There’s something about short-tailed breeds that makes them like water. As well as the Japanese Bobtail and the American Bobtail, the Manx is another breed that has no qualms about getting its fur wet. This breed is considered canine-like in its behavior. It can be taught to play fetch and perform a host of other tasks and actions, and it will happily play in the sea, lake, pond, or paddling pool.

3 cat divider

How To Get Your Cat Used To Water

Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

There may be some cases where you need to teach your own to at least tolerate water. In these cases, follow these few steps:

  • Start at as young an age as possible. Kittens are easier to train and teach than adult cats.
  • Place your cat in an empty bath or sink. Put a small treat or their favorite toy in and keep talking to them to set their mind at rest.
  • Once the cat is comfortable in the bath, rub them with a wet towel or cloth to get them damp.
  • Put a tiny amount of water in the bottom of the sink before putting your cat back in. Let the water touch their paws, but don’t get carried away at this stage.
  • If you aim to bathe your cat, you can now try using a cloth to damp and soap him, and then to get rid of the suds.
  • Continue talking to your cat throughout the experience and be calm.

cat paw divider

Why Do Cats Hate Water?

Not all cats hate water. In fact, some love it and will come running when they hear the noise of the shower or the bath is being run. If your cat is afraid of water, it is likely caused by a lack of exposure or by a previous bad experience that involved water. You can try to get your cat used to the water, but it will take time and persistence.

thematic break

Featured Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay