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You cannot say that all cats hate water!

I have to confess that I have become a little bit frustrated and perhaps irritated by a large number of articles on the Internet which state with complete confidence that cats hate water. They are generalising about all cats. You can't generalise like that. You have to drill down and analyse the situation in far more detail.

The originan Van kittens swimming. Please click this link to read about the real Turkish Van

Firstly, you have to decide whether you are referring to cats walking outside in the rain and getting wet or whether you are describing bathing a cat or a cat falling into a bath or pond. When a cat, and I'm referring to a domestic cat in this instance, is submerged in water they will in general dislike it. You can pretty well bank on that. But it depends upon the individual cat as to how much they dislike it. Some may hate it and some may simply put up with it while others will love being in the bath.


However, you have to compare that situation with being out in the rain. We know that in the UK 99% of cats go outside whenever they like through a cat flap. They might go out in the rain. My cat actually goes out when it's raining sometimes. Clearly the rain does not perturb him. Or he is caught in a downpour and comes in soaking wet. It doesn't worry him particularly. Therefore this is, at least, one cat who does not hate water. He just doesn't mind getting wet.

So among the domestic, random bred cats you will find individual cats who might even like water and those who are ambivalent about it and those who dislike it or even hate it. There is a full spectrum of personalities which affects how they relate to getting wet.

Turkish Van

Then you have the cat breeds. There is quite a lot of talk about the Turkish Van swimming in water and liking it. This is a bit of a myth (see picture and link above). All the current Turkish Van cats in Turkey are random bred cats and they will behave just like random bred cats in America or the UK or anywhere else when it comes to getting wet. The person who started the Turkish Van breed was an English lady and she was driving home from Turkey with some cats and they went for a swim in a lake. This does not mean that all Turkish Van cats like to swim in ponds or lakes.

Maine Coon

I read somewhere that the Maine Coon cat likes to swim as well. This is a myth if you've heard it. In general, purebred cats will be no different to random bread cats in this respect.

The wildcat hybrids are much more likely to like or accept getting wet. Photo: in public domain.

Wild cat hybrids

You have to mention the wild cat hybrids. These cats such as the Savannah and Bengal have serval and Asiatic leopard cat DNA in them respectively to varying degrees depending on their filial. This affects their character and their relationship with water. Both the higher filial variants of these breeds are much more amenable to getting wet and even going into showers than the average random bread or purebred cat. 

This is because the serval and the Asiatic leopard cat live in wetter landscapes. The serval lives in and around watercourses and the Asiatic leopard cat lives in rainforests. They are habituated to wetter landscapes and climates. This has been brought forward in their DNA as a form of memory which has been embedded into the characteristics of these two wild cat hybrid domestic cats. That's why they accept or even like water.

Wild Cats

And then if you're talking about cats in general you must talk about the wild cat species. The tiger loves water and spends a lot of time in it. They are great swimmers and can swim in the open sea for miles. The jaguar in South America loves water and spends time in it as well. The small wild cat species, the fishing cat, spends most of its time in and around watercourses where it, yes, fishes. 

There are other the small cat species such as the flat-headed cat which also spends a lot of time on river banks near water. The Geoffroys' cat dives into water to hunt so once again a small wild cat looking much like the domestic cat likes water. All these species actively get into the water and therefore don't mind being wet. You can never say that "all cats hate water". Please don't do it! Rant over.


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