Why Do Cats Hate Baths?

Why Do Cats Hate Baths?

Most cats dislike water instinctively. They will do anything to avoid getting wet and will stare at you accusingly if you attempt to bathe them. There are exceptions, however: Some cat breeds, like the Maine Coon and Turkish Van, love water and would willingly swim in a filled tub. In this article, we get to know why cats hate baths and why they avoid getting wet. 

Why do cats hate baths?

They are unfamiliar with water 

Cat behaviorists suggest that cats evolved in dry climates and deserts. Felines had little or no exposure to lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. It is an element that they avoid because they are unfamiliar with it. 

Cats feel uncomfortable with wet fur 

Cats are fastidious groomers and they spend about five hours a day just grooming themselves. They feel uncomfortable with wet fur as it takes a long time to dry. It makes their fur heavier and they become less nimble, making them more vulnerable to predators. 

Cats are less tolerant of change and new experiences 

Unlike dogs, which are very adaptable animals, cats take a while before they get used to changes and new experiences. Cats that have not been exposed to water may have a hard time getting into the tub for a bath, while those that were exposed to water as kittens may be more accepting. 

Cats may also have an aversion to water and bathing because they have had a bad experience with water. They may have accidentally fallen into a water-filled bathtub or swimming pool. A frightening experience like this could make a cat fearful of water. 

Interestingly, some cats adore water and may play with running water from a faucet. Behaviorists theorize that felines are drawn to the movement and sound of water as it can stimulate a cat’s instinctual drive. Some water-averse cats may also play with water if only their paws get wet. 

Do cats really need to take a bath?

Cats  usually do not need to be bathed as they are fastidious groomers. They spend at least 40 percent of their day just licking and grooming themselves. However, there are instances when you may need to bathe your cat. 

First, if it rolled in something that it cannot wash or lick off, such as paint or too much mud. Second, if it has long or matted hair. Third, if it is sick, depressed or under stress.  And lastly, if it is old and arthritic, or too fat to groom itself. 

Take your cat to the vet if she is not grooming like she used to, so she can be checked for any medical conditions. Your vet may recommend medicated products to treat allergic skin and bacterial infections.

How to get your cat to like baths?

Allow your cat to have a positive association with the sink or tub. 

A few weeks before you plan to bathe your cat, let her get used to the tub or sink. Let her play there with some toys and put down treats and catnip. Once she becomes used to the location it will be easier to bathe her. 

Start to bathe her while she is still young. 

Let your cat get used to being bathed when she is still a kitten. The earlier she gets used to the water, the more likely she will tolerate it as she gets older. 

Let your cat play in the water. 

Place some toys on the surface of the tub or sink and allow your cat to play in the water. 

Put down a cloth or towel so she can have something to sink her claws into. 

This will allow your cat to get her footing.  A window screen may also come in handy so she can have something to hold onto; just be sure to secure it in place. 

Provide minimal restraint.

Let someone else hold your cat gently while you bathe her. 

Do not make unnecessary noises. 

Cats are easily startled and may bolt in the middle of being bathed. Speak softly and calmly so your cat becomes relaxed and comfortable. 

Be fast when bathing your cat, and be sure to dry her off. 

Prepare the things you need so that the process is quick and seamless and your cat does not have to be wet any longer than needed. Towel her off and, if you need to blow-dry her lush fur, choose a low and quiet setting. 


Most cats hate baths, but some cat breeds like the Maine Coon adore the water. Felines tend to hate baths because they are unfamiliar with water, since they evolved from areas with dry climates. They may also hate baths because they feel uncomfortable with wet fur, or because they are less tolerant of new experiences or changes.

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