Why is my cat afraid of water? Have you ever seen a tiger swimming at the zoo? These and other wild cats are known to be excellent swimmers, which makes it seem even more strange that many domestic cats seem to hate getting wet. So what’s the real deal when it comes to cats and water? Are they hydrophobic? Why don’t they enjoy a good swim like many cats in the wild? Let’s take a closer look to understand why
Fear vs. Fascination
If you’ve ever tried giving your cat a bath, you’ve probably witnessed their apparent distaste for being wet firsthand. But is it a phobia of water that makes cats fearful of bath time? From intently staring at a running faucet to dipping a paw into a full tub, your cat may have different behaviors that challenge the assumption that their feelings about water are only based in fear.
While they might not enjoy getting wet, most cats are actually fascinated by water. The way water falls, ripples, and moves can be a wonder to witness from the perspective of a cat. The way light flickers off of water is captivating to them, and many felines attribute this flickering pattern to a potential sign of prey.
The latter helps explain why your cat may be curious enough to grab at a running stream of water coming from a faucet or dip their paw quickly into the sink or tub. Running water especially stimulates a cat’s audio and visual senses, as it makes interesting noises and motions – two characteristics that are also common in their prey.
Observing Water vs. Getting Wet
So if domestic felines tend to exhibit this curiosity and wonder when it comes to water, why do they have such an aversion to getting wet? Here are a few possibilities and answers for the common question, Why is my cat afraid of water?
Cats are Creatures of Habit
Domestic cats love routine, and once a routine has been established, they’re not very tolerant or accepting of change. When you introduce a new or unfamiliar stimulus into your cat’s routine (like giving them a bath), you’re likely to be met with resistance. This is especially true with older cats and cats who have not been regularly exposed to water or baths.
Their Ancestors Weren’t Swimmers
The type of wild cat that domestic cats descended from are those of the Middle East, where the climate was arid and dry. There were very few bodies of water where the ancestors of your traditional house cat lived, which meant they didn’t have a need to learn how to swim.
It’s Counterproductive to their Nature
You’ve probably seen a wet dog shake to dry themselves off before. Many canines have coats that are adapted to repel water, but cats aren’t so lucky. If a cat were to take a dip in the water, their fur would become saturated quickly, which would weigh them down significantly and be rather uncomfortable for them. It’s in a feline’s nature to be agile and light on their feet, so it’s easy to see why getting wet would hinder their abilities in a fight-or-flight situation.
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For over 20 years, the Catonsville Cat Clinic has been providing quality veterinary services to those in Catonsville, MD and beyond. Our veterinary specialists offer compassionate and dedicated care for cats of all ages, temperaments, shapes, and sizes! Whether you’re new to the area and need a trusted local vet or you have a concern about your cat’s health or behavior, we’re here to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment for your cat today.