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

Home > Cats > Why Do Cats Hate Water? 5 Reasons & Care Tips

Why Do Cats Hate Water? 5 Reasons & Care Tips


If you have a cat and have tried to bathe it, there’s a good chance you quickly found out that cats hate water and can tear through thick rubber gloves to get out of it. Out of all the behaviors that cats exhibit, this is one of the strangest. If you would like to learn more about it, keep reading while we try to get to the bottom of why cats hate water. We’ll find out what science says, as well as the experience of many previous owners, to help you understand your pet better.


The 5 Reasons Why Cats Hate Water

1. Water Can Weigh Down a Cat

Most cats have thicker fur than we think and it can hold a considerable amount of water which can make it heavy. Your cat will not be used to the sudden weight gain and may not feel comfortable. Even after several baths, your cat might not get used to the heavy feeling. It can also take quite a while for the fur to dry, especially in the wild, which can be a good reason cats avoid water.

bathing a tabby cat with shampoo
Image Credit: angnokever, Shutterstock

2. Water Can Make a Cat Cold

You know that when you get out of a bath or shower, it can be quite chilly. It would be even colder if you were wearing wet clothes, and that’s what it’s like for your cat. Even with a towel and a heater, your cat can get cold from the water. As we mentioned earlier, it can take quite a while for the cat to dry in the wild, significantly decreasing body temperature, possibly leading to hypothermia, so it’s no surprise cats might avoid water in nature.

3. Water Can Dry Out a Cat’s Skin

Not so much the water, but the soap you use to get the cat clean can deplete the skin of its natural oils, drying it out.  Dry skin can be itchy, causing scratching and excess shedding leaving the cat uncomfortable. It can also take weeks to replenish the missing oils that heal the skin.

Image By: Pixabay

4. Cats Don’t Like the Smell

Cats are sensitive to smells, and you’ve likely noticed your cat often avoids new items you bring into the home until it’s allowed to sit for a few days or even weeks. The reason cats avoid it is likely because it smells something it doesn’t like, and it won’t use it until the scent is gone. Soap and even water can have an odor that your cat doesn’t like, even if you can’t smell it. A cat can smell as well as a dog.

5. Cats Like to Be in Control

Most cat owners will tell you that cats like to be in charge. They tell you when to change their litter box when to feed them, when to wake up, and when you can pet them. They will not like you grabbing them with both hands and forcing them into the smelly, cold, and heavy water. In many cases, your cat will be just as offended that you are handling it in such a manner as it is about being wet.

Image By: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

divider-cat Frequently Asked Questions

Do All Cats Hate Water?

Every cat is unique, and plenty doesn’t mind water, and you might even have one that enjoys bath time. You can increase your chances by choosing a breed known to be more tolerant of water. Breeds like the Maine Coon, Turkish Van, Bengal, American Bobtail, Norwegian Forest Cat, and several others are less likely to fight you while you bathe them.

How Often Should I Bathe My Cat?

Cats are meticulous groomers who spend a large part of their time grooming themselves. If you have an indoor cat, there is rarely a need to bathe it. Outdoor cats might need a bath if they get into chemicals or some other substance that they shouldn’t ingest. The most common reasons to bathe an outdoor cat are because it crosses paths with a skunk or picked up fleas.

Can I Shower My Cat?

In our experience, we noticed that many of our cats will allow you to spray them down if you need to. The noise and a large amount of streaming water in a shower will usually send them running, but a hand sprayer, like the one on many kitchen sinks, works well. A hand sprayer in the shower works the best because it gives you the most room and allows the cat to stand and move around.

persian cat taking shower
Image By: 135pixels, Shutterstock



In our opinion, cats hate water because they are not very good swimmers, and their body doesn’t do a good job of regulating the temperature when they are wet. Water is dangerous to them in the wild, so they have an instinctive desire to avoid it. We don’t recommend bathing your cat too frequently because it can dry out the skin, leading to itching and scratching, but there are times you might need to bathe your cat, and it’s best to use a gentle shampoo and a hand sprayer. If you don’t have a hand sprayer, you can gently pour a cup of water over the cat while it stands in the tub to get it wet.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide and have learned something new. If we helped you understand your cat a little better, please share this guide to why cats hate water on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets