Cats are mysterious creatures. There are many questions people have about cats, and one of the more common questions is “why do cats hate water?” If you’ve ever tried to give a cat a bath, you may have noticed that not only do they not like the water, but they actually seem to be magnetically repulsed by it, as if cats and water are at different polarities and they can’t physically occupy the same space.
Is it something that they can control? Is it evolutionary? Genetic? Do they just not like the way it feels? The fact is that, like many other strange facts about cats, the answer to the question “why do cats hate water?” is a little bit of a mystery. Still, there are many theories, and we’ll take a look at some of the most popular ones in this article.
Swimming Isn’t in Their Genes
One theory that attempts to answer the age-old question “why do cats hate water?” is that they simply aren’t genetically evolved to handle water. Felines as a species evolved predominantly in dry desert climates that did not feature large bodies of water such as lakes and rivers, or even rain.
This theory says that because it is not in a cat’s genetic makeup to understand water, they simply don’t know what to do with it, which makes them deathly afraid of it. With animals, most behavior is instinctual and passed down through genes. If a cat’s genes don’t have an inherent understanding of water, it would stand to reason that they would, therefore, avoid it like the plague.
Water Messes Up Their Coat
The second biggest theory that poses one of the most common answers to the question “why do cats hate water?” is that it just messes with their coats too much and makes them uncomfortable.
One big difference between dogs, who love water, and cats, who hate waters, is that cats bathe themselves with their tongues while dogs don’t. Cats have no reason to bathe, and their coats are a finely-balanced eco-system of natural oils that exposure to water messes with. Cats are meticulous about their coats, unlike dogs who could be covered in dirt and filth and not even know the difference.
You could even say cats have a sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder when it comes to their fur, and one small thing being off about it can send a cat into a full-blown existential crisis. It goes without saying, then, that not only would getting wet mess up their natural oil balance, but it might also just be too off-putting of a feeling for the average cat. They might simply not be able to stand the way it makes their fur feel.
Water Messes With Their Sense of Balance
The last theory is that cats just don’t like to not be on solid ground. Cats are graceful creatures on their feet who take pride in their sure footing, and when they’re put in a slippery bathtub or forced to float around in the water, they might feel like they’ve totally lost control. In this way, the sensation a cat feels when being forced into the water could be tantamount to how a person would feel when standing on the edge of a cliff. They might feel like it’s the end of the world and simply wish to do everything in their power to avoid it.
The Truth Is Still a Mystery
So, why do cats hate water? It’s not so cut and dry, and there’s no one solid reason that researchers agree on unanimously, but it would seem to be something to do with their lack of genetic awareness of water, that it messes with their fur, that it makes them feel like they don’t have control of their bodies and movement, or maybe even a little bit of all three.
There’s no solid answer to the question “why do cats hate water?”, and there are even some cats who don’t seem to hate water as much as others. Still, next time you’re trying to force your cat in the bath and they seem like they’re about to have a meltdown, have a little sympathy! There is a reason, whether you understand it or not.