Why Do Cats Hate Cat Bath Time?

Cat lovers like us are no strangers to this — a superstition proven as fact but not applicable to all cats. Most of our furry friends would rather lick their fur or run away and hide than bathe with water.

If you’re wondering why cats have a bizarre kind of relationship with H2O, there are three explanations that we know so far on cat bath fears:

History and Science of Experience

Both have a say when it comes to the love-hate relationship between cats and water: science points out to human behavior of shielding domestic cats from the rain as the culprit, while history names two of domestic cats’ ancestors that had limited to no contact with water: the Desert Cat from Africa and China, and the Wild European Cat.

Cats can also have this trauma with water the moment they start to avoid heavy rains, forced bath or splashes given to them as a form of discipline. Those who never experienced getting their bodies wet with water would have that first-timer anxiety, and those who are sensitive to odors may be uncomfortable with tap water due to the scent of chemicals that it contains.

That Wet and Heavy Feeling

If we humans sometimes do mind about our clothes getting wet after swimming or being soaked during a storm, cats feel the same way with waterlogged fur. The top layer of fur on their bodies is somewhat water-resistant, yet the whole fur getting wet is another story — they don’t like the added weight caused by water.

However, not all cats have hydrophobia and hate a cat bath. Examples are cats who position themselves near bodies of water when fishing, and the big jungle cats –lions and tigers — who swim to cool off.

How do I get my cat to take a bath?

Some tips to help you in bathing cats:

  • use the right shampoo
  • put toys in the tub, pet your cat
  • don’t rush bath time
  • rub gently with a soft towel
  • keep your cat warm with a blowdryer but nozzle shouldn’t be too close
  • make sure you have a reward ready for being well-behaved during bathing
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