Humans domesticated cats 9,500 years ago somewhere in the Middle East.
They lived in the arid desert climate and, therefore, were never acclimatized to be around any body of water such as lakes, rivers, and even rain.
They evolved into having a deep aversion to water. That’s why most modern-day cats hate water and get upset when you give them a bath. Avoiding water is part of a modern-day cat’s instincts.
However, not all breeds of cats hate water. Some breeds enjoy it due to their evolutionary backgrounds, such as the Turkish Angora and Turkish Van. They are known for their love of water and swimming skills. They are believed to have adapted to their surroundings in the Lake Van region in Turkey. They shed their hair in the summer so they could swim and catch fish. Some other breeds like American Bobtail, Bengal, and Maine Coon also like water.
Why Cats Hate Water?
There are a few reasons why cats hate water, such as:
Sensitivity to Scents
Cats have a very strong sensitivity to smell. Their sense of smell is fourteen times stronger than humans.’ The scents associated with conditioners and shampoos bother cats to the point they avoid water like the plague. Some experts have speculated that the reason why cats might hate water is that they can smell the scent of chemicals in the tap water.
They Love Being Warm and Clean
Cats are extremely meticulous when it comes to cleanliness. They spend a lot of time grooming themselves and keep their fur detangles, well-conditioned and clean. They also like to maintain a high body temperature. When they clean themselves consistently, it helps them regulate and maintain the temperature of their body.
Also, when a cat becomes wet, they feel heavy, and it takes a long time for them to return their warm state. A wet fur can make the cat feel nimble and slower than usual, which makes them uncomfortable. Since they tend to be fast, being wet makes them feel like they can’t get out of a dangerous situation quickly.
They are Averse to Water
A lot of cats’ experiences with bodies of water are mostly negative. They are sprayed with water for bad behavior, forcibly given a bath or stuck outside during rain. So, it is understandable if you find your pet cat running under the table or inside the closet to hide when it’s bath time.
Here are a few ways you can give your cat a bath without getting it upset
- Before giving your cat a bath, ensure it acclimates to the bath area. Introduce your cat to the tub weeks before you are supposed to give it a bath. Doing so will get it used to the bath area. When you put your cat in an empty tub, put some toys, treats and catnips in it. Use spreadable treats like whipped cream or anchovy paste on the tub so your cat can lick it. Once your fur baby is comfortable enough with eating treats and playing in the tub, fill the tub with a few inches of water and spread the toys throughout. This will distract your cat from the water. Instead, it will play with the toys. Every time it plays with the toys, give it a treat.
- Make sure the environment is calm. Close the door and keep the noise to a minimum. Speak softly and be calm. Instead of using a shower or water, use a cup to pour water on the cat. Your cat will get stressed if you get stressed.
- During the bath, avoid holding your cat down. Instead, watch your pet’s body language and use positive distractions such as a wand toy or a special spreadable treat. Always be gentle.
- Make sure not to spray water on your cat’s face or in the eyes or ears. Also, don’t wash the whiskers. That’s where the cat’s receptors are located. When the whiskers are grazed by food, water, or dirt, it irritates the cat. Ensure to rinse the shampoo properly to prevent skin irritation.
- After you are done bathing your cat lift it out of the water gently and wrap it around with a towel. Towel dry your cat and leave it be. Your cat will dry in a few hours until they keep your cat warm.
- Give your cat a treat for being a good sport.
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