Are All Cats Really Afraid of Water?

While there is always an exception to the rule, most cats seem to be petrified of water. Did you ever wonder why?


While it is a common rule of belief that all cats are afraid of water, there is one breed that is the exception to that rule. The Turkish Van cat, who’s ancestors originated in  the Lake Van region of Turkey, and actually enjoys taking a dip. The extreme summer heat is the likely cause. What about other cats, wild or domestic; can there be any other water lovers out there?

Experts seem to think that domesticated cats dislike of water stems from them never really experiencing the element within nature. Much of the exposure they do have comes in negative forms such as when an owner squirts his cat for negative behavior, or plunges him into a bathtub beyond his will.

Taking a look back in time, many desert roaming felines never experienced water, while cats from other regions would swim regularly to cool off or catch their prey such as the Asian fishing cat with its partially webbed paws. Lions and leopards tend to stay away from the water to avoid predators such as the crocodile.

Even with the over arching majority of cats detesting water, many are drawn by curiosity to it dripping from faucets or enjoy batting at it form within a bowl. Some cat owners leave a small steady stream running from a bathroom faucet for their pet to drink from instead of a dish. This can be a sensible decision for some who’s cats are known to knock over their water dish with a few bats of the paw or to perch on the toilet seat and unashamedly dunk their heads for a drink.

Since it seems that a cat’s aversion to water may be due primarily to environmental factors there may be hope yet for change. So how do you transform the dreaded B-A-T-H time into a positive and welcoming experience? The key is to start when your cat is young and help him to associate it with a pleasant positive experience. Start by placing him in an empty tub or sink and with a calm reassuring demeanor, run a damp, room temperature washcloth over his fur.  If he seems to be remaining calm, proceed by filling the bath or use a pitcher to slowly pour lukewarm water over his coat. Check his mood at this point. Is he enjoying himself or getting worked up? Remember to use a reassuring tone and even offer treats for his participation. If he is in a calm state, continue bath time by working in a bit of mild cat shampoo in a calm and messaging manner. Rinse a few times to be sure all shampoo is gone or it can cause irritated and itchy skin.  Make dry time fun by cuddling him in a warm, fluffy towel and praising him for his efforts.  Avoid using a blow dryer to dry your cat’s fur since the loud noise and blowing can scare him and turn a successful bath time experience in to a traumatic one that hi will not likely want to repeat. End by congratulating your courageous cat and offering him some treats.

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