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Why are Cats Afraid of Water?

If you have ever seen a scared cat being touched with water, you may be curious to understand why they hate water so much. Especially when they love drinking water from water fountains (click here for my best water fountain & see the price on Amazon), let me explain where this fear comes from…

Why are cats afraid of water? If they are long-haired cats, they won’t want to be weighed down by their wet fur. And, if they are short-haired they will not like the water penetrating their fur and touching their skin. Also, some cats get anxious about bad experiences with water.

Now that you know some reasons why they fear water, let me give you some more reasons why, some cats that actually enjoy the water, how you can keep them safe around water and much more…

What other reasons make cats afraid of water?

In this section, I will explain why cats are typically afraid of water. However, you may be surprised to find out that this is not the case for every single cat (more on this later).

Heavy coats

The first issue that some cats have is getting weighed down with a wet heavy coat. Especially if they have long fur. There is a good chance any long-haired cat won’t like the water for this reason.

If they’re immersed in water, e.g. if they fell into a river or lake, they could really get dragged down and make them feel that they are going to go under the water.

Making them feel cold

Another issue with water that really antagonizes cats is the risk of a dramatic drop in body temperature.  Especially if they have short hair. Why? because short hair cats mean the water can penetrate their skin easily making. Consequently, their body gets cold.

Don’t like the smell

As you may or may not know. Cats have a very sensitive sense of smell. Therefore, they can smell things which we usually overlook.

But, what has this got to do with the water you ask? Simple, the chlorine in the average swimming pool is so intense to a cat’s nose that it finds it quite vulgar and repulsive, are you with me?

When we humans swim in a swimming pool we overlook the chlorine. Yes, you can detect it, but, it’s not a big issue for us. Cats, on the other hand, are very different.

This could also be one of the reasons why cats are not always willing to drink tap water. This is one of the reasons some cat owners prefer cat water fountains that filter the water (Click here to see why I rate this one best).

Bad history with water

If your cat has had a bad experience with water in the past. For example, they fell into a swimming pool, lake or someone sprayed water at them to punish them. Or, maybe they’ve been forced to take an extra-long bath. All of these experiences can turn them off for good.

Interesting story…

I remember being handed the nutty chocolate bar, let’s call it “dream bar” for now to save the negativity on a specific brand (however, it’s not sold anymore, to be honest) but I remember it well, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t want it.

It’s not because I disliked the sweet nutty texture of these bars, it’s because of the bad experience I had with this sweet thing…

I was traveling back home on a long car journey, my mum handed me the bar. And, at that point in time, it made me feel sick.

Fact is, it wasn’t the “dream bar”, it was the experience at that point in time. A bit like some cats. They may just hate water from a bad experience.

Causes them issues with their ears

A cat is his very different to us, they have very deep ear canals. And, very little space in the shallow part of their ear. What this means is, if water gets into their ear. It’s not very easy to evaporate and disappear.

This can lead to discomfort and in some cases ear infection. So, you can understand why they would have reservations going into the water.

What cats are ok with swimming?

Even though I have stated many reasons why cats do not like water there are actually some breeds of cat that actually enjoy going in the water. I know! This totally contradicts this rule, right?

For that reason, I’m going to list some of these breeds and explain why they love water.

Turkish vans

The Turkish Van cat which is also known as the swimming cat is one of the few cat species that enjoy swimming. This may be due to their long-bodies with rounded paws, who knows. Either way, this makes them the ideal candidate for swimming.

Maine Coon

Believe it or not, even though the Maine Coon (click here to see why Maine Coon cats are so big) is a really large cat he actually loves the water.

If you are a Maine Coon cat owner you may have seen your cat swimming around in your swimming pool or local lake.


These cats are descendants of Asian Leopards. They are known to love playing in the water. Maybe this love of water is because of their link to the Asian Leopards? Who knows…

Whatever reason, they are big water lovers.


Wild cats are known for their enjoyment of water. What kind of cats am I talking about?


  • Lions
  • Tigers
  • Leopards

One of the reasons for this is because they use it as a means to cool their body temperature down in the hot direct sun.

Wildcats from colder climates

Unlike the wildcats, I mentioned above. These wild cats are an exception to the rule, they don’t like water. This is because they live in cold climates. An example of this is Snow Leopards.

The reason why they hate the water is that it reduces their chances of keeping warm. And they typically live in extremely cold climates.

What precautions can you take for cat safety in the water?

If you have a pool in your back garden or access to water, such as a nearby lake. And, your cat is willing to take the plunge into the water. I’m going to share with you some safety measures that you can take to help to keep them safe.

Keep an eye on them

Firstly, always make sure that you keep an eye on your cat. Make sure that they are not struggling to keep above water or they are in any form of distress, are you with me?

Clean out their ears

Immediately after they exit the water it is a good idea to clean out their ears (click here to see how to clean cat fur without water) . This is to avoid any chance of infection.

Never force them

If a cat feels forced they will not be happy. Therefore, never attempt to force your cat into the water. Even if you feel that you’re trying to help it to learn to swim.

Related questions:

In this section, I’m going to reveal some answers to some related questions to cats and water. If you feel that there are some questions in your mind that haven’t been answered feel free to drop a comment below.

Do cats get scared of being alone? Yes, cats do get scared of being alone (Click here to see why cats are scared of cucumbers). Believe it or not, they are actually attached to their owners even though they don’t always appear to be.

There is a perception that cats do not care so much for their owners. This may be because they are not visually as connected. Especially when compared to a pet dog.

However, this is not the case. Cats need as much care and attention as a dog. But, they just show their love in different ways.

Can cats smell Fear? Yes, cats can smell fear. A pheromone (click here for my best 3 Pheromone Collars for Aggressive Cats) is a chemical released by cats which is used in many different ways. Can be used to mark their territory and for a number of other reasons.

However, there can also be scent released in the same way which indicates fear. This can be used to alarm a cat to run away from a potentially dangerous situation.

Lindsey Browlingdon

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