Why do cats hate the water?

Why do cats hate the water? While not all cats hate the water, it’s one of the great mysteries of the universe that an animal which takes such pride in cleanliness can be so against having a bath. There are four main theories to answer this question.
  • The Fur Theory: This theory covers cats with slightly thicker coats and especially the ones in slightly colder environments.
While the top layer of a cat’s fur is usually a bit thinner and ever so slightly water resistant, the fur deeper in and closer to the skin is not. If your cat gets drenched, this thicker fur absorbs a large amount of water, becoming quite saturated. This can be very uncomfortable for your cat as it makes it difficult for him or her to stay warm and also the weight can be heavy, making it uncomfortable for them to move around. This theory explains why cats in warmer environments with thinner hair tend to be less aggressive about avoiding the water!
  • The Senses Theory: Cats can be very sensitive to odours and the senses theory suggests this could extend to smells in water. For example, the strong smell of chlorine in backyard swimming pools or the chemical smell of bath products you may be putting in the bathtub to make it more inviting for your cat.
  • The Bad Experience Theory: Like humans, cats have long memories. The bad experiences theory states that some cats hate the water due to a previous negative experience.
For example, if your cat was caught outside and got saturated in the cold rain, it may now associate those negative feelings with being wet and it may take years to get over! Another example would be if you once sprayed your cat with a hose, or perhaps took it by surprise by forcing it into a bath. These bad memories can leave your cat hating the water for many years to come.
  • The Opinionated Theory: At the end of the day, people with cats know that they can be very strong willed and independent animals. Sometimes your cat may choose to dislike something ‘just because’ and there is little you can do to get your cat to change its mind!
Cats usually keep themselves pretty clean but if you feel the need to give your cat a bath, use warm water, don’t put any chemicals or other products in, and try to go at a pace your cat is comfortable with.