Do Ragdoll Cats Like Water?

Do Ragdoll Cats Like Water

Most cat parents are probably familiar with what it is like to bathe their cats – they scratch, lash out, yowl, and will do anything to escape the tub! A once-sweet, docile feline suddenly becomes psychotic as she declares war on her human.

Unfortunately, Ragdolls are not so different from other cats. They, too, hate being submerged in the water. And there are a few good reasons why they tend to have such a strong dislike of water.

If you are one of the curious cat owners asking, “Do Ragdoll cats like water?” – this article might enlighten you.  

Ragdolls and water – their love-hate relationship

Ragdoll cats are like any cat – they hate the water! They hate getting their fur wet, although they might enjoy batting the water from your faucet with their paws.

Ragdolls are right up there among the other cat breeds when it comes to their reluctance to get wet. Many experts believe that this strong aversion is associated with their ancestry. Most domesticated cats are descended from wild cats who are used to living in arid desert climates. That means most of them were never exposed to lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water. This unfamiliarity is believed to have made them fearful of getting wet.

Another possible reason that most cats notoriously hate water is due to their meticulous nature. A drenched coat makes them feel heavy and less able to move fast, and they probably also know that their coats take a very long time to dry. 

Most cats believe they do not need our help to groom themselves, although we fur-parents know that this is not always the case. Despite their fastidious hygiene habits, cats might need a bath under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, their relationship with water makes bath time very challenging, even for the most docile felines like Ragdolls!

Do Ragdoll cats like water?

Ragdoll cats are definitely not afraid of water and actually love playing with it. If you are a Ragdoll owner yourself, you might sometimes find your kitty lingering near the shower when it is running, or pawing at the stream from the water as it fills the kitchen sink. 

However, let us clarify that this does not imply that your cat loves to swim or bask in the water!

Like most cats, Ragdolls do not like baths. To these independent felines, their ever-diligent grooming habits are sufficient to keep them tidy and pretty (although we know that sometimes they may not be!). Hence, you will not have much luck getting your Ragdoll into a body of water like a bath or pool!

Reasons Ragdolls hate water

1. Evolutionary

Most domestic cats, including your fluffy Ragdoll, are descendants of African wildcats that originated in arid climates with very few large bodies of water. As a result, these cats never needed to learn to swim. Fast-forward to the modern era, and a lot of our domesticated felines have inherited these traits and avoid water at all costs. 

2. Survival instinct

That fluffy coat that you love so much actually makes cats vulnerable to the perils of water. The luxurious, thick fur absorbs water easily, and if they were in the wild, the heavy wet fur would limit their mobility and make them an easy target for predators.

Hence, you cannot totally blame your kitty for avoiding the bathtub – this is just her survival instinct coming into play.

3. Past trauma

Some cats become traumatized by water due to a scary event in their past. Felines have incredibly good memories, and this helps them avoid anything they associate with pain or fear. For example, a cat may have gone out into the rain and been caught there by a surprise thunderstorm. The anxiety from the loud noise, coupled with the sudden wetness, can cause a lasting trauma that manifests as fear of water on a behavioral level.

A cat’s aversion to water may stem from being caught out in a downpour, being sprayed with water, or getting wet in some other way. The sudden shock of being wet will linger in their memory and cause them to avoid water at all costs.

4. The smell of the water

While water does not have a particular odor to humans, your cat’s extremely sensitive nose can detect chemicals and other substances in water! They might prefer not to be soaked through to avoid smelling that way all day.

Keep in mind that cats usually mark their territory with their scents, and Ragdolls are no different in this regard. In the cat world, scents are very important tools for communication, used to express their moods and wants, and to mark out their territory. So it is pretty normal for your cat to freak out if her body odor suddenly smells like chlorine!

How to get your Ragdoll to like the water

There are many ways to help your cat get used to being in the water. The main trick is to use positive reinforcement.

First, try to make some positive and fun memories of water for your cat. This will help her get over her fear, and soon enough she should start enjoying the water.

If your Ragdoll begins to display signs of fear when she is near the water, try to calm her down. Make her bathing experience as fun and comfortable as possible. You can gradually familiarize her with the idea of bathing by first getting her used to a dry sink or bathtub. You can also get her used to the bathtub by using her favorite toys or treats. Then, slowly ask her to stay in the water for about two minutes at a time.

Keep in mind that it might take months for your cat to get used to bathing. But, if you are patient and calm enough, chances are you can make your cat’s bath time fun, even for the most fearful Ragdoll kitty in the world!

Other interesting facts about Ragdolls and water

1. Do Ragdolls like baths?

While Ragdoll cats are best known for their appearance, they are also known for being finicky. Most of them do not like baths, unfortunately, but they can be trained to get used to the water. The trick is getting them used to bathing while they are young.

If you do need to bathe your Ragdoll, make sure that you use only lukewarm water and no soap. Then let her sit in the tub until she is comfortable with being there. Remember not to rush things – you want your kitty to associate the sensation of being washed with pleasure, rather than fear!

2. Do Ragdolls like swimming?

Most cats have an innate fear of water, which is why they instinctively try to get out of it when they fall in. This is why most Ragdoll cats do not enjoy swimming, or even stepping into the water. While Ragdolls are known for being docile, they can also be very independent and stubborn – they do not like being forced into the water if they do not want to go!

However, there might be a few exceptions. Depending on how they were raised, some Ragdolls might actually like swimming and being in the water.

If you are curious about your cat’s love for the water, the only way to find out is by actually trying to be in the water with your cat. If she enjoys it and wants to do it again, that is great! If she does not enjoy it or will not go back into the water after a few tries, do not force her into doing so! She might just need some time to get used to the water and learn to tolerate having her fur wet.

3. Do Ragdolls like drinking water?

When it comes to their drinking water, cats can be really picky. They do not always like the taste of tap water, and are not all keen on drinking from a bowl, either.

You may know that felines are designed to get most of their hydration from live prey, but domestic cats have different diets from those of their wild cousins. So, if you find your Ragdoll avoiding her water bowl, it could mean trouble in the future. Dehydration in cats is known to cause kidney problems, heat stroke, diabetes, and other health issues.

The best way to encourage your cat to drink water is by offering her fresh, clean water in a bowl, that is changed daily. Remember that most cats avoid stale water – they would rather find other sources of drinking water to quench their thirst, like dripping water from a faucet. 

4. Do Ragdolls like water fountains?

The answer is a resounding yes! Water fountains are fun for cats and encourage them to drink more water.

Cats tend to be very selective about what they drink, so it is important that you provide them with plenty of options. If your Ragdoll hates her water bowl, then a cat water fountain might be your only solution to keep your kitty hydrated and healthy!


Do Ragdoll cats like water? Absolutely. They enjoy toying with water, and appreciate having access to it whenever they want. But this does not mean they will enjoy actually being in the water. Like most cats, Ragdolls have an innate fear of getting themselves wet. 

So, if your furry one lashes out at you during bath time, do not take it personally! Instead, you can try the tips mentioned in this article to make bath time calmer and more enjoyable. Most importantly, give your cat enough time to learn to love the water. And, who knows – your Ragdoll might soon enjoy lounging with you in the bath! 

Image: / Karen Richards