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Why Are Cats Weird About Water? 5 Reasons Why Their Behavior Is Strange

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Why Are Cats Weird About Water? 5 Reasons Why Their Behavior Is Strange


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats seem to have a complicated relationship with water. They may hate getting baths, but they’ll still have fun playing with water running from the faucet. Some cat breeds are even known to enjoy swimming.

While we don’t know exactly why cats have a weird relationship with water, we can gather some good guesses based on observations and research on cat behavior. Here are some possible reasons why your cat is weird about water.

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The 5 Reasons Why Cats Are Weird About Water

1. Water Is a Startling Experience

Many feline species have evolved and adapted to living in areas that don’t have a lot of bodies of water. This can make the feeling of getting wet feel very strange and surprising for them. This could explain why cats will jump whenever they come in contact with water. It’s especially worse for them if they’ve fallen into a pool of cold water. Splashing into the water can feel very foreign for cats, and they may also feel like they’ve lost control because they’re completely outside of their comfort zone.

cream tabby maine coon cat playing water
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

2. Wet Fur Feels Uncomfortable

Your cat may not mind water, but they can hate the feeling of having wet fur. Perhaps it feels cold and restricts their movement, though we can’t know for certain. So, it’s not uncommon for cats to play with water faucets but suddenly freak out when they feel they’ve gotten too wet. It’s also worth noting that most cats are heat seekers, so getting wet is the exact opposite of what they enjoy feeling.

3. Cats May Prefer Moving Water

Some cats may prefer fresher water or cleaner bowls, which may go hand in hand with certain fountains. Therefore, if you notice that your cat isn’t drinking enough water, it can be helpful to consider a switch to a cat water fountain. Water fountains may also do a better job of attracting cats due to both the sight and sound of running water.

cat drinking water from fountain
Image Credit: Daria Kulkova, Shutterstock

4. Digging at Water Bowls

Some cats may develop a habit of digging into their water bowls. They can dig for a variety of reasons. First, they may not like the location of the water bowl and may be trying to relocate it to a more preferable spot. Cats can also knock over water bowls if they know that it’ll get them any sort of attention. Other cats may dig at their water bowl simply because it’s fun and they like seeing the water splash around.

5. Some Cats Do Like to Swim

Most cats don’t enjoy swimming, but there are a few cat breeds that are known to swim comfortably. One of the most common cat breeds that doesn’t seem to mind water or swimming is the Turkish Van. These cats tend to be pretty curious and adventurous, so it’s no surprise that they may like playing in water.

Turkish Van sitting in the garden
Image Credit: Vadim Petrakov, Shutterstock

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Can Cats Learn to Tolerate Water?

Cats that naturally enjoy swimming in water or do not mind being bathed are pretty rare. Many cats that do like water have usually been exposed to it when they were younger and have been desensitized to the feeling of getting wet.

There are some cases where you can teach your cat to tolerate water. With incremental training and building a positive association with water, your cat may learn not to mind getting wet. Using plenty of treats and gradually increasing your cat’s exposure to water can increase the chances of success. However, it’s important to note that not all cats will ever like being in the water, and they shouldn’t be pushed or forced outside of their comfort zones.

wet cat in the bathtub having shower
Image Credit: Vladeep, Shutterstock

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Cats may be curious about water, but they may still have an aversion to water because they don’t like the feeling of being wet. On the other hand, some cat breeds are known not to mind getting wet and may even like to swim. A cat’s level of comfort around water will depend on each individual cat. It’s important never to force cats to be in water and to respect the boundaries they place between water and themselves.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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