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Why do Cats Hate Water? (The Answer Might Surprise You)

Why do Cats Hate Water?

Ever wondered why cats hate water? Think it has something to do with their ancestors living in deserts and having minimal contact with rivers, streams and rain? Well, it might do, but there are other factors at play and the reason cats hate water might be more complicated than you think.

Why do Cats Hate Water?

One of my cats is obsessed with water, particularly flowing water. When we bought a water fountain he would sit in front of it, starring and trying to catch the water. We turned it off on a nighttime and in the morning, upon hearing the sound of the plug near the fountain, he would scamper to it and wait eagerly.

When he began to play with it, knocking it over and generally causing a mess, we took it away and now, some 3 years after the fact, he still gets excited and sits in the same spot whenever he hears the click of the plug (now controlling a light switch). He clearly loved it, but he’s not a big fan of getting wet (although he loves to watch the carpet get wet). So just what is going on with cats and water? Why the hatred, why the obsession?

Well, no one really knows for sure, but what we do know is that not all cats hate water. Some breeds of cat, such as the Turkish Van, seem to love getting drenched and there are cats in the wild that will swim in rivers in order to cool down (the same reason the Turkish Van seems to have adapted to water).

So while you might think that this hatred/obsession stems from the fact that many big cats were raised in dry desert areas, that’s not entirely true. In fact, if anything, it could be that us humans are at fault.

Cats Hate Water Because of us

Cats have been domesticated for a long time, with a lot of those wild and feral tendencies bred out of them. Throughout that time, their experience of water has been limited, to say the least. They associate it with the sound of a shower, a bath or a storm, all of which are loud and chaotic—a combination that cats generally don’t appreciate.

This aversion to anything loud is likely one of the reasons cats do not appreciate water, but the fact that it’s unusual and new also has something to do with it. They are curious creatures so they like to explore, dipping a paw or two, but they hate it when the things they prod and poke stay with them. If you’re ever seen a cat approaching a piece of fabric, only to stab it with their paw and then jump in shock and horror when they realize it has stuck to them, then you can understand what we’re talking about.

Also, they don’t get wet in general. They clean themselves by licking and grooming and they use minimal saliva in the process. In other words, it’s not a natural part of their existence, it’s something that makes a lot of noise, something almost alien, and something that insists on sticking to them, so it really only make sense that cats hate water.

Of course, we are just speculating. The truth is that no one really knows for sure why cats hate water. But we can make an educated guess and it’s also fair to assume that the reason they are so mesmerized by it is because they are curious creatures and because they naturally have an interest in things that are new and things that may pose a threat. Just ask that one friend or family member who your cat seems to hate, spying on them from a safe hiding place every time they come to visit and looking like they are ready to ambush them should they do anything untoward.