Tigers Swim, Yet Most Cats Hate Water. What Gives?

It’s inaccurate to say that all domestic felines detest getting wet, but it’s not far from the truth. Sure, there are some delightful cats out there that, we can only assume, never got the memo about hightailing it far, far away from a running faucet. But for the most part, cats experience intrinsic, and often hilarious, reactions to the elixir of life.

Just when you thought you had them all figured out, we offer some insight regarding why cats hate water.

They Like It!?

We’ve heard of cats that enjoy peaking into the shower when their owners are in it, or those that bat at a steady leak in a sink. There are even felines out there that don’t mind bathing! However, among the many other things that cats seem to loathe, getting wet tops the list.

Desert Dwellers

Cats are fastidious self-groomers so they aren’t necessarily drawn in by water the way we are. But the fact that they evolved in the desert is a more likely explanation for why cats hate water. Indeed, ancestors of modern domestic felines adapted in dry, arid regions where they never needed to develop a relationship with water.

Jungle Cats

Various big cats like tigers, leopards, jaguars, lions, and ocelots are famous for cooling off in watering holes and their swimming skills are top notch. They seem to truly enjoy being in the water!

Adaptations

The fact is, big cats are at the top of the food chain out in the wild. The smaller cats that our pets evolved from had to adapt to their dry, hot environments. What’s more, their ancestors understood that they were an easy target when wet. Water-clogged fur can weigh a cat down, making it hard to escape a predator. In addition, if a cat is wet and cold their internal body temperatures can plummet.

Marks the Spot

Cats hate water because they self-groom between 15-50% of their waking time. Water can easily ruin a full day’s worth of primping, but also washes away important pheromones. Essential for marking, tracking, and even mating, pheromones become diluted or drained when cats get wet.

Not All Cats Hate Water

There are some notable breeds that tolerate and possibly love water. The Norwegian Forest Cat, Maine Coon, Bengal, and Abyssinian breeds are all known to hunt, play, and frolic in running water, stream, and pools. Other cats can learn to accept water, but it’s important to positively introduce them to it and never use water as a form of punishment, as in a squirt bottle.

Long Lasting Effects

Sure, some cats hate water their entire lives, others can be taught that they aren’t in any danger when wet. The important thing is to honor your cat’s feelings and never force them to do anything they don’t like.

As always, if our staff at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care can be of further assistance, please let us know.