It is no secret that most cats hate water, but if you can train them to do certain things, isn’t it possible to train them to like water?
Cats are trainable to like water but require consistent training as they like to stick to a routine.
It’s not at all impossible to train your cat to love water or at least to get used to it. Let’s learn more about cat behavior and find out how you can train them at home.
How Do I Train My Cat to Like Water?
Cats that have been exposed to water in a trapped tub or sink while being rained on harshly develop a dislike to water.
- Let them watch you in the shower. It almost sounds weird but as you are the cat’s provider and therefore parent, you set the example that water is safe and something to have fun with. When your cat gets curious and starts to come in to watch you, gently reach out and wet its fur.
- Allow your cat to curiously touch water. When they sit by the sink and paw at the water coming from the faucet, allow them to explore but don’t force it.
- Put toys in the water to play with your cat. Use a shallow bowl and fill it with water then add a toy fish or anything that catches their interest. They’ll have more fun than care for getting wet.
- Bathing time is also training time. The tub is a great place to train your cat to like water. Use toys and a bowl of floating treats to get them in there willingly.
The best start is to train them while they’re kittens. Remember to start small and keep the learning sessions short.
Present them with something interesting and let them approach. Don’t intimidate the cat in any way or it’ll bolt right out of your hands.
Why Do Cats Hate Water?
Wet fur on cats takes time to dry and it weighs on them, slowing down their movements and making them more vulnerable. Cats’ coat of fur is their primary defense against the elements and water strips away their blanket of warmth as well as exposes them to the cold.
It’s also not surprising to learn that some owners particularly children find it amusing to drop the cat into a pool of water. This frightening experience and similar “jokes” will make them hate water.
Are There Actually Cats That Like Water?
Some domesticated cats have been bred until certain traits are achieved. Certain breeds of cats actually love water such as Bengal, Main Coon, Turkish Van, and Egyptian Mau.
For Bengal cats in particular, their love for water is an inherited trait from their ancestor, the Asian Leopard Cat, a magnificent feline that started the line of our beautiful Bengal cats. You can read more about these two here.
Are Cats Traumatized by Water?
Historically, cats thrived in a dry environment. Cats lived with humans in Ancient Egypt around 4000 BC and had little exposure to water. It’s almost unfamiliar to them and water is uncomfortable on their fur when they’re fully soaked.
Not all cats don’t like water though. There are a few exceptions that thrived in wetlands like the Jungle Cat.
Domestic cats that really hate water most likely have had traumatic experiences with it.
How Do You Bathe a Cat Who Hates Water?
Cats develop a hatred for things that have stressed them.
- A week before you bathe your cat, train them to be curious about water in bowls or shallow bodies of it.
- The first thing you must do to make it at least tolerable for your cat to is to take them away from the tub or their shower area because getting in there causes them enough stress.
- Find another area where you can reintroduce water to them, a smaller tub is ideal so it isn’t too intimidating. Don’t give them cold baths. Make sure it’s lukewarm.
- Prepare everything in the bath such as towels and shampoo. Have someone to help you with handling the cat.
Use treats and toys. Let them be curious about water and encourage it. If affordable, buy them a water fountain. Set up a small fish tank and put in fake fish that move around.
Do Cats Prefer Still or Running Water?
Cats are fascinated by running water. Because water neither tastes nor smells a particular way, the sound of it is what draws your cat to running water.
Interestingly, they don’t mind getting their paws wet under the faucet to try and touch the water. In the wild, animals locate fresh water by listening to the gushing of running water. Still or stagnant water attracts bacteria to contaminate it and allow it to grow.
What Does Water Do to a Cat’s Fur?
A cat’s fur offers primary protection against the cold and protects them from injuries. When a cat is fully soaked in water, its coat will feel heavier and make them slower in movement. It’s a disadvantage that cat fur isn’t designed to repel water, as explained by Molly DeVoss, a feline behaviorist.
It’s a very uncomfortable feeling for cats to have wet fur. They can’t run as fast from predators and it exposes them to cold. When they stay in water for too long, their body temperature drops which can result in hypothermia.
Are Cats Safe Around Swimming Pools?
A swimming pool is full of chemicals other than chlorine that keeps it blue-tinted and “clean” for us to swim but not ideal for cats. Cats lack certain enzymes to break down the chemicals they ingested from a swimming pool.
Dr. Vogelsang wrote that it is more likely for your pet to become ill from a dunk in a standing pool of water or a lake filled with unknown microorganisms than they are from swimming in a pool full of chlorinated water.
Although, chlorinated water irritates your cat’s GI tract when drunk. Make sure to monitor your cat around the swimming pool.
Can Cats Play at Beaches?
Cats can have fun at the beach too like dogs! However, they will be intimidated by the rolling waves and the unpredictable behavior of the salty water.
It takes exposure and positive reinforcement so that your cat can play at the beach. They may taste the saltwater out of curiosity but be alert.
Cats are intelligent animals that can be trained to overcome bad behavior. You can train your cat to like water too. With great patience, expose them to water at a young age.
Set the example that water is safe by allowing them to be curious about it. Bring them around bodies of water like a pond or even the beach. Bring your cat’s favorite toy and treats to reward them for their bravery.