For an animal so adamant on being clean, it’s a wonder that most cats don’t like water. Find out where this dislike stems from and how to manage it when your cat is in need of a bath.


While many cats explore their water bowls with their paws, and become curiously bewitched around dripping faucets and showers, most don’t appreciate being wholly drenched in water. There are a few reasons for this:

Fur foibles

Have you ever noticed how nice and warm your cat is to snuggle with on a wintry night? This is because, at an average of 38.6 degrees Celsius, cats maintain a higher body temperature than humans. When their fur becomes sodden, cats get cold and they find it quite difficult to get warm again.

Another issue with fur issue is that a cat’s coat becomes quite heavy when it’s soaked, despite the top layer having some water-resistance. As cats are largely reliant upon their agility and capacity to ‘land on their feet’, being wet increases their level of vulnerability and makes them feel trapped and uncomfortable.

Evolutionary aversions

Most domestic cats descend from wild cats in arid regions – the Chinese mountain cat, European and African wildcats and the Eurasian lynx to name a few. These cats rarely encountered water, and didn’t require it for survival.

However, some domestic cats’ ancestors come from watery areas – like the fishing cat from the wetlands in Southeast Asia. These cats are adept swimmers and tend to like water. Some kittens are even known to sit in water to heighten their chances of catching a fish.

Traumatic exposure

If the sum total of a cat’s aqua-related experiences is falling in the bath or pool, being sprayed with water for discipline and getting stuck in the rain, it’s not wholly surprising that they’re water adverse. You probably would be, too!

Do any cats like water?

Contrary to popular opinion, some cats actually enjoy making a splash. The following domestic breeds are renowned for playing with, or in, water:

  • Turkish Van cats
  • Maine Coons
  • Bengals
  • Savannahs
  • Siberians
  • Norwegian Forest cats
  • Manx cats
  • Cymric cats
  • Turkish Angoras. 

Mastering bath-time

Chances are your cat won’t enjoy the experience of having a bath, but there are things you can do to make it less unpleasant. For instance, if you expose your cat to water from a young age, they are more likely to accept bath time. It also helps if you praise your cat at every opportunity and give them treats for partaking.

  • Put your cat in an empty sink or bucket. Try placing some toys in there to help reassure them.
  • Run a warm wet washcloth over your cat’s coat and, only if they are calm enough, start filling the bath with warm water.
  • Apply a small amount of cat shampoo and massage from head to tail.
  • Dry your cat with a soft, fluffy towel.

If this doesn’t go smoothly, try using some waterless shampoo instead.

If you’re worried about your cat or need some bath-time advice, head into Petbarn or ask your local Petbarn Groomer for advice.