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Why do Cats Hate 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 from experience. Both have a say when it comes to the love-hate relationship between cats and water.Science indicates human have shielded domestic cats from the rain from many centuries, which can act as the behind why cats now avoid water. Additionally, cats historically have had domestic cat ancestors that have had limited to no contact with water, such as the Desert Cat from Africa and China, and the Wild European Cat.

    Cats can also have this trauma with water 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 also be uncomfortable with tap water due to the scent of chemicals that it contains.
  • That wet and heavy feeling. Humans can feel uncomfortably soaked after getting wet during a storm, and cats can feel the same way with their waterlogged fur. While the top layer of their fur is somewhat water-resistant, too much water will cause their lower layers of fur to take in water which will create added uncomfortable weight to their bodies.  This can cause them to be cold and wet, and if soaked for too long, cats will start to shiver and become sick.  So cats try to avoid being sick by avoiding water to begin with.

However, not all cats have hydrophobia and hate bathing! Here are some examples of cats who position themselves near bodies of water when fishing, and the big jungle cats, such as 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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