Skip to content

Do All Cats Hate Water

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Most cats hate water due to their ancestry, the weight of water on their fur, negative past experiences, and their sensitive sense of smell.
  • There are cat breeds that are naturally attracted to water, such as Bengal, Japanese Bobtail, Maine Coon, Manx, Norwegian Forest Cat, and Turkish Van.
  • Cats can be gradually introduced to water and may develop a liking for it, but it is best to start when they are young.
  • Regular bathing is not necessary for most healthy indoor cats, as it can strip their coat of natural oils. However, bathing may be needed to remove sticky substances from their fur.
  • It is important to consult a veterinarian for guidance on your cat's hygiene and grooming habits.
Written by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Licensed veterinarian and animal behaviorist with over three years of experience and a Ph.D. in Poultry Science.
Published on
Saturday 13 January 2024
Last updated on
Monday 30 October 2023
Do All Cats Hate Water
This page may contain affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links.

A dislike of water is one of the most famous characteristics of pet cats. But do all cats hate water? Are there any cat breeds that don’t hate water? It may come as a surprise to know that not all breeds are naturally averse to water. Some breeds like the boisterous Bengal and the adventurous American Bobtail are beheld for their affinity to water.

But why do cats hate water? And can cats be introduced to it safely? When is it acceptable to bathe a cat? For more on this topic, read on with us today!

Why Do Most Cats Hate Water?

Although some cat breeds have a natural affinity for water, the vast majority of cats will quickly say no to bath time. This is because of their ancestry, as well as the fact that water weighs them down, early experiences causing fear and anxiety, and their keen sense of smell.


Most cat breeds descend from dry, arid places where rivers and oceans are not natural obstacles for them to face. As such, there is usually little in your modern cat’s ancestry to prepare them for the shock factor of the bathtub. Adding to this, cats are behaviorally less tolerant of change than your dog. A cat who has never been exposed to water before will probably not adapt well to the new sensations of it. Because of this, most cats’ first reaction is to scratch and claw their way out of your arms when you try to bring them to the tub.

Makes the Fur Heavy

If you have bathed in a shirt or come home from a walk in the rain, you know that water weighs your clothes down considerably. The same goes for your cat’s coat. By getting it wet, your cat is made heavier, and thus less agile. Your cat is always alert for sudden changes and threats, so anything holding them back from a quick escape is highly stressful for them. As well as this, cats are highly clean animals who spend a lot of time grooming themselves. If your cat’s coat is drenched in water, it is not only heavy but uncomfortable as well and takes a long time to dry.

Negative Experiences

Some cats will have already experienced bathtubs or getting wet in kittenhood. Sometimes, these early experiences can explain your cat’s dislike for water. If being submerged in the bath was stressful for them as a kitten, it’s more likely for them to refuse it in adulthood. By submerging your cat or kitten in the bath, you take control away from them. With water weighing them down and their paws on a slippery surface, your cat feels as though they have no autonomy over the situation and their feline instincts quickly go haywire.

Chemical Smells

Your cat has an incredible sense of smell. Cats possess up to 200 million scent receptors in their nose. The scent of chemicals in tap water may give it a particular odor. Submerging your cat in liquid that smells different from their coat is often enough to put them off from bathing. Having a natural scent is important for cats, and removing it can be stressful for them. This is another major reason why many cats hate water.

What Cat Breeds Like Water?

There are several cat breeds with a natural affinity for water. This may be due to the breed’s origin, its unique physical characteristics, or its human-oriented nature, depending on the breed in question. Such breeds include the Bengal, Japanese Bobtail, Maine Coon, Manx, Norwegian Forest Cat, and Turkish Van.


Bengal cats famously love water and enjoy getting wet and swimming. This breed owes some of its ancestries to the Asian leopard cat, a small wild cat species which lives close to rivers, valleys, and ravine forests. As such, your Bengal will quickly learn to swim when encouraged to do so. You may find them playing with water in their bowls, turning on faucets, and running at the sound of water.

Japanese Bobtail

The Japanese Bobtail breed is a frequent leader on lists of cats who like water. While this breed is unlikely to jump into the pool to join you in a relaxing dip, they may come running at the sound of water and seem to enjoy playing with it using their paws. This breed is reportedly highly attracted to water as well as highly intelligent and playful. Japanese Bobtails are also very active and have a strong human-oriented nature, making it easier for them to learn tricks and participate in human-mediated activities like walking on a harness.

Maine Coon

The Maine Coon is another cat breed that is fascinated with water. In fact, its love of water is so well-documented that many breeders include the trait in the breed’s characteristics. Maine Coons are often known to pat water from their water bowl, drink from faucets, play with water in sinks, and bathe in bathtubs. Maine Coons have semi-water-resistant fur.


The Manx is often observed to enjoy the water. This breed has a thick double coat which makes them more tolerant of water as well as colder weather. As well as this, the breed hails from the Isle of Man, so water is a familiar element to their descendants. This breed is also popular for its charming and playful nature which seems to keep it in high spirits at all times.

Norwegian Forest Cat

Norwegian Forest Cats are unique for their thick, waterproof coats that keep them warm and cozy even in the snowiest conditions. Cats of this breed have been known to swim to hunt fish and other water-borne prey. This breed is also one of the few that drinks water often, not only to stay hydrated but to play too. Lastly, it is said that their affinity for water and hunting for fish hails from their time on Viking longboats – take extra care if you have a pond or fish tank at home!

Turkish Van

Your Turkish Van hails from the Lake Van region of Turkey, where its affinity for water has given it the well-earned nickname of the “swimming cat.” This breed is equipped with a naturally water-repellant coat. Some sources state that free-roaming Turkish Vans are known for swimming in shallow rivers and streams. So, don’t be surprised if you find your Turkish Van dipping their paws into water or investigating water sources of their own free will.

Do All Cats Hate Water: FAQs

Still wondering why cats hate water? Feel free to check out our Frequently Asked Questions for more details. If in doubt about your cat’s hygiene and grooming habits, always ask your local vet for advice.

Do cats naturally hate water?

Most cats have a natural aversion to water. This is because most breeds hail from dry, arid regions where water is not a common obstacle for them to face. As such, most modern cats are not equipped for the sudden sensory overload that comes with being submerged in water.

Why are some cats not afraid of water?

Some cat breeds do not fear water because of their ancestry and unique characteristics. Some cat breeds naturally have water-repellent coats or were bred in regions where water is common for them to encounter. As such, these breeds are better equipped to deal with situations involving water than others.

Can you get a cat to like water?

Your cat can be acclimated to the water. However, it’s best to start when they are young. Start by gradually introducing them to the idea. Get water on their fur, their paws, and then their whole bodies. This process must be done slowly and consistently. You must also do your part to keep the process stress-free and stay calm.

Is it cruel to bathe cats?

Most healthy indoor cats do not need to be bathed. If you bathe your cat too often, you risk stripping its coat of natural oils. This can lead to skin irritation, increased shedding, and poor coat health. However, your cat may need help with removing sticky substances from their coat. In this instance, bathing is an acceptable way to aid them in staying clean.

Not all cats hate water. However, cats often dislike it. This is because they lose control when submerged in water. Another reason is the cat’s origin in dry, arid regions. Negative experiences will also shape their view of the water.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *