Do cats really hate to bath?

You might have seen your dog’s jumping happily into a pool or a pond, swimming, and catching some fun. But, have you ever noticed that your cats don't do the same?

Wait, what? Does that mean cats hate to bath? Yes, cats hate to bath because they're not just comfortable with being wet.

If you want to justify this, sprinkle your cats with some water and watch them jump away and shiver it out immediately. It is as though they get irritated with water.


Photo by Karin Chantanaprayura:

But why do cats hate to bath? Alright, in this article we will walk you through the reasons cats hate to bath, how you can bath cats that hate water, and ways to clean your cats without water.

Why do cats hate to bath?

If you're curious to know the reasons cats hate to bath in water, here are five possible reasons:

Their evolutionary background

The domestic cats you're keeping in your homes are descendants of African wild cats which have their origins in arid lands with very few or no water bodies such as lakes and rivers.

For this reason, cats' ancestors were not familiar with water and did not learn how to swim. The trait and instinct are passed to their descendants causing them to also avoid water.


Your felines have the instincts that they will become more vulnerable when they are wet. Their fluffy furs are soaked up in the water, adding to their weights and limiting their movement. Also, cats may get cold because wet furs take a long time to dry.

In addition, when cats are immersed in water, it enters their eyes and ears. This may partially impede their sight and ability to hear, thus making them more vulnerable to potential predators, hence, cats avoid water.

Water is not odorless to cats

We humans do not perceive a particular odor in clean water. However, cats can detect the odor of certain substances in water. Felines smell chemicals that are present in water, thus, they avoid being soaked in water because they do not want to be smelling that way throughout the day.

Your felines produce natural pheromones that give them a particular scent and they don't want their natural odor to be replaced by those they perceive in water.


Cats always fear being submerged in water, especially running water such as rivers. The fear of being carried away by the moving water or being harmed by a predator that may be hiding somewhere in water bodies will make your felines jump out of running water.

Cats don't need water for grooming

Cats have a natural way of grooming themselves by licking their bodies. They also use their paws to scratch out any dirt that clogs their furs.

To cats, water is not needed for cleaning their bodies, hence they see no reason to bath.

Do all cats hate water?

The answer to this question is, “No,” not all cats hate water. It is common to see domestic cats avoiding baths in water but big cats such as tigers and lions like to go for a dip in the water.

Most breeds of cats hate water, nevertheless, some breeds of cats such as the Bengal, the Turkish Van, and the Maine Coon like to get some splash and play in the water.

The Maine Coon and the Turkish Van are known for having water-resistant flurry coats known as the "Swimming coat", therefore these breeds of cats love to swim in the water.

How to bath cats that hate water

We've mentioned that most domestic cats hate to bath in water. They avoid water because unlike humans, they do not need water for cleaning their bodies.

However, if you feel you must bath your felines and you want the bathing to be less traumatic, here are a few tips that can help you clean your hydrophobic felines.

Be organized

You don't want to immerse your cats in water before looking for the necessary materials to bath them. Ensure you have prepared everything you need.

Get a feline shampoo, a cup to pour water, a warm fluffy towel, toys, and a rubber mat. You may place the rubber mat at the bottom of the bathtub so that your cat may have a firm grip on it without slipping.

Hold firmly

Your cat will most likely feel uncomfortable and want to jump out of the bathtub at the first pour. Hold them firmly but be gentle with it.

Ensure you hold your feline as firmly as you can to avoid being attacked by their claws. However, if you notice your cat looks stressed, take a break and pat them on the head or somewhere they like.

Use a cup to rinse

After washing your cat with feline shampoo, do not rinse them directly under the faucet or shower, instead, use a cup to pour water gently on their fluffy coat. This is less frightening than the running water from a shower.

Use a warm fluffy towel

Using a blow dryer on your cat's coat will irritate them more. Instead, wrap your feline in a warm fluffy towel and place them in a warm room. Ensure they remain indoors until their coat is dry.

How to clean your cat without water

Your cat may become so wild when you attempt to bath them in water. So you may try cleaning them without water. If you fancy learning about cleaning your cats without bathing them in water, here are a few things you can do:

Use cat wipes

Cat wipes are available at market stores. You can get them and use for cleaning your felines. Cat wipes help to remove allergens and unpleasant oils from your cat's coat. They also deodorize the cat's fur.

However, ensure you purchase cat wipes with natural ingredients such as lavender or aloe vera. Wipes that contain alcohol can cause skin irritation for your cats.

Make sure your cats are relaxed before attempting to clean them with wipes.

Use a waterless shampoo

Purchase non-toxic waterless shampoo that contains natural ingredients that will not irritate your feline's skin. You may seek a veterinarian's advice for a recommendation to buy a suitable product.

Apply the waterless shampoo on your cat's coat when they are relaxed and distribute the foam evenly throughout their furs. Then gently brush the shampoo through their coat and remove any excess with your fingers.

Use the right grooming tools

A pin brush, thinning shears, and grooming gloves are necessary tools you should have to groom your cats. Use thinning shears to remove tangles and knots from their furs. Ensure you brush their coats regularly to remove any parasites that could have clumped to their furs.

Also, always wear grooming gloves while cleaning your cats to prevent germs from infecting your body.


Most domestic cats hate to bath for many reasons. Getting their coats wet tends to make them more vulnerable to attacks from predators, thus they avoid water. In addition, water impedes their sight and hearing ability, making them less sensitive to their environment.

However, breeds of cat such as the Turkish Van and the Maine Coon love water because they've developed "swimming coats" that make them adapt to bathing in water.

If your cat hates bathing, you can clean them by using waterless materials such as cat wipes and waterless shampoo.



Improve your cat's quality of life with these simple tricks which you can implement immediately.