Cats and water: we generally believe that cats hate it. But this isn't always the case. In fact, some felines even love water, and their behaviour only proves it!
Cats and water: does your cat like it?
If your cat stays with you when you're taking a bath and dips its little paws in the water... If they spend a lot of time around the shower floor or the sink playing with running water... Well, it's probably safe to assume your cat enjoys water.
However, this doesn't necessarily mean they want to get in the bath with you!
Tolerance to water varies from cat to cat. Most of them won't appreciate splashes on the head or inside their ears. The interesting fact to note is that a cat's fur will retain water, which is why a lot of cats hate baths. And if they are wet and it's cold, they're not going to get warm quickly or easily.
A matter of habit?
It's possible to teach a cat to appreciate water. Kittens are less fearful than adult cats. A kitten exposed to water early on, particularly through bathing, will be more likely to enjoy or tolerate water.
Obviously, this is only true if the experience hasn't been traumatic. Or they just have a natural disagreeance towards it. Any habit you try to create must begin slowly and gently. And if your fur friend refuses it, never force it upon them.
Different tolerance levels between breeds
Some cat breeds are known to appreciate water more than others. These include the Bengal, Abyssinian and Turkish Van breeds. In fact, the Turkish Van is even called the swimmer cat. They're typically not afraid of water, as well as being comfortable in it; it's not uncommon to see them enjoying a swim in a pool! Scientists believe this natural predisposition to water comes from their ancestors who needed to swim and hunt for fish to eat.
Separate to the Turkish Van, have you ever heard of the fishing cat? This feline catches fish, mollusks, and shellfish by separating and using their claws as harpoons. They live around swamps in South Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia and India.
What about other cats?
Within the broader Felidae family - the lineage of cats including domestic and wild cats, cheetahs, lions, tigers, leopards, and others - there are notable behavioural differences towards water based on climate. Lions, tigers, and jaguars typically like water; bathing is one of the only ways to freshen up in desert areas.
Quite the opposite, snow leopards don't appreciate water since they live in cold areas. Once their thick fur becomes wet, they are no longer protected from the cold and can find themselves fighting for survival.
Can I give my cat a bath?
It's rarely necessary to give your cat a bath, especially if they have short hair. Cats spend most of their day cleaning themselves, and they are pretty good at doing it!
Long haired cats might need a bath from time to time if their fur gets really dirty. In that case, you will need to use a special cat shampoo, designed with their sensitive skin in mind. The room must be warm and the bath water tepid (35°C-40°C). Be gentle, and remember not to wash their head, unless they don't mind (a washcloth is usually best here). After rinsing, again with tepid water, use a warm towel to dry them. You can even use a blow dryer, but only if they like it!
Read more here about bathing your cat.
Does your cat like water?