Discover Why Most Cats Hate Water

Written by Sam Hindman
Published: November 14, 2023
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Have you ever tried to give your cat a quick bath, only to be met with a fierce fight from your feline? Observing the domestic housecat’s aversion to getting wet is quite interesting. This is especially so when you consider that the cats they evolved from, wildcats like tigers and leopards, love taking a dip on a hot summer’s day. What exactly is it that makes cats so upset when they get wet? In this article, we’ll be detailing not only the reason why cats hate water but also how you can keep your cat clean without causing them too much upset.

Why Cats (Usually) Dislike Getting Wet

The process of washing the cat in the bathroom. Wet, scared and unhappy cat, a human hand, a lot of suds

The most likely reason for your cat hating water is probably related to the uncomfortable sensation of wet fur.

©Irina Kozorog/

So, let’s cut to the chase and get to the bottom of this. What is it about splashing around in the water that gets so deeply under a cat’s skin? Well, it actually has a lot less to do with their skin and a lot more to do with their fur.

We know that cats are incredibly agile creatures. They love to jump around and run amok to their heart’s content. When their fur gets drenched, however, they have a much more difficult time doing the things that they enjoy. It can prohibit them from being as agile as normal, and this leads to a lot of discomfort.

Aside from their coats getting wet, cats are known to be very independent creatures. Surely, you’ve seen them licking themselves clean on more than one occasion. This being said, we all know that sometimes our pets can get into things they shouldn’t, and a bath is absolutely merited. We might understand this, but that doesn’t mean that the cat does! It can feel to them like their autonomy is being temporarily restricted, and this can incite fear and panic in the cat.

If you haven’t had your cat since it was a kitten and adopted it after its first few formative months, there is also the potential for trauma. This, of course, can make cats hate water much more than usual. Perhaps whoever owned your cat before you didn’t know the best practices for cleaning them, and they now have a fear of the tub. It’s important to play things by ear and try to make them as comfortable as possible while they get cleaned.

Do Some Cats Enjoy Water?

Closeup portrait face of one sad sleepy calico maine coon cat face lying on bed in bedroom room looking down bored with depression

Due to the texture of their fur, some cat breeds (like the

Maine coon

) don’t mind getting wet at all!

©krblokhin/iStock via Getty Images

Although the majority of cats have a distaste for getting wet, you might have a different experience with your feline. This is perfectly normal, and your cat isn’t as odd as you’d think for enjoying the occasional dip. In fact, while they don’t like being submerged, the majority of cats are water-tolerant at the very least. If you’ve ever caught your cat looking mesmerized at the kitchen faucet, for instance, you probably know what we mean.

While preference obviously differs individually from cat to cat, much like from person to person, there are some breeds of cats that are particularly big fans of getting wet. The reason these domestic breeds enjoy water is that they’re uniquely resistant to the more annoying factors of getting wet. This has to do with the texture of their coats, which are more water-resistant than other breeds. Here are some of the most water-friendly cats out there:

Is Bathing Your Cat Cruel?

Cat bath. Wet cat. Girl washes cat in the bath

There are steps you can take to make giving your cat a bath much easier.

©Olleg Visual Content/

Now that you know that your cat is uncomfortable with getting wet, you might feel bad about all of those baths you had to fight for. In truth, there’s no need to feel guilty about bathing your cat. Although it isn’t something that is necessary to do frequently, sometimes it’s necessary. Cats do a bang-up job of keeping themselves clean, but pets are well-known for getting into things that they shouldn’t. There’s no need to be upset that you want your cat to stop smelling so stinky.

However, there is a way to go about this process that will cause the least stress possible for your feline. Below, we’ll list out some of our best cat-bathing tips. This will ensure that the next time you get them wet, you won’t get such a negative reaction out of your furry friend.

Tips For Cat Bathing Without Hassle

  • Make sure you have everything you need before putting the cat in the water. If they’re prone to getting stressed, keeping the process as quick as possible is highly necessary.
  • If your cat is known to give a good scratch or two during bath time, try using a pair of rubber gloves. They aren’t completely foolproof, but they will definitely save your skin from a bit of the action.
  • You might feel like you need to get your cat’s entire body wet, but avoid their face. Cleaning it is unhelpful and will only make things worse for your cat’s poor mood.
  • Since you now know that cats hate having wet fur, you might think a hairdryer is a quick way to get them feeling normal after a bath. Despite this logic, you should skip it. The noisiness and sudden heat will only upset your kitty more.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © KDdesignphoto/

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About the Author

Sam Hindman is a writer at A-Z animals covering a range of topics, including pet care, plant care, pest control and travel destinations. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Multimedia Studies at Point Park University, set to graduate in the spring of 2024. A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when she isn't writing, she's spending time with her beloved cat Archie.

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