Not all cats hate water. Cats that have had positive experiences around and in water, especially during their main socialization period (early socialization occurs between 3 and 8 weeks, late socialization between 9 and 16 weeks), often like water. There are also specific breeds that love water! It’s important to treat your cat as an individual with no expectations.
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Many cats hate water.
It is believed that cats were domesticated 9,500 years ago in the middle east. They evolved in a desert climate and were not exposed to rivers, lakes, and rain. This resulted in today’s cats, which mostly avoid water masses. Even community cats often seek shelter from rain and thunderstorms. Hiding from water has become instinctive in today’s cats.
However, this is not true for all breeds, because some species of cats like to be in the water because of their evolutionary background. The Turkish Van and the Turkish Angora, for example, are known for their love of water and their swimming skills. They have adapted to their climate in Lake Turkisch Van by shedding their hair in summer for swimming and fishing. Some other breeds that are more inclined to enjoy water are the Bengal, the Maine Coon, and the American Bobtail.
Cats are sensitive to smells.
Cats have an exceptional sense of smell, fourteen times more sensitive than ours. The strong odors associated with shampoos and conditioners can contribute to cats’ aversion to water and bathing. Some have also speculated that your cat may not like the smell of chemicals from tap water.
Cats like to be clean and warm (the wet factor)
Cats are meticulous in their natural cleanliness and spend much of their time cleaning, untangling, and taking good care of their fur. Cats also maintain higher body temperature, and cleaning themselves helps to maintain and regulate their body temperature. When a cat’s coat becomes soaked, it becomes quite heavy, making it difficult for them to return to a dry, warm state quickly. Wet skin can also make the cat feel slow and not as agile as usual, resulting in an uncomfortable feeling not being able to get out of a situation quickly.
Aversion to water
The experiences of many cats with water are not positive and are stuck in a downpour without shelter, being sprayed with water and forced bathing are a few examples. So it is understandable why many cats don’t like water.
Do cats need baths?
As mentioned, cats do an excellent job of keeping themselves clean and can clean up to 40% of the day, so you may never have to bathe your cat.
Cats may need a medical bath due to a skin problem, and older, arthritic and overweight cats may find it difficult to reach certain parts of their body. A bathroom may also be needed if the cat happens to be in something sticky or smelly.
How can I get my cat in the bath?
Before the bath
Acclimatize the room. To get your cat used to water comfortably, try acclimatizing her weeks before a bath so she can get used to space. Place your cat in an empty bathroom or sink with toys, catnip, or treats so she can make positive associations with the location. Try spreadable treats, such as a small amount of squeezed cheese, whipped cream or anchovy paste, and spread them on the bath to lick your cat.
As soon as your cat feels comfortable playing and eating treats in the sink or bathtub, fill the tub with an inch or two of warm water and spread toys over the tub so she can have some fun. Encourage your cat to play with the toys and strengthen her with praise and treats when she does.
Have everything ready before you bathe the cat. Make sure you’re prepared with everything you need. This includes shampoo made specifically for cats, special treats and toys your cat loves, warm towels, a plastic cup to pour water over your cat and a non-slip surface, such as a rubber lining, and a bath mat or towel to put in the sink or bathtub your cat can stand on.
Create a quiet environment. Close the door and keep noise to a minimum. Be careful and speak softly. If your spray attachment is noisy, flush your cat with cups of water. If you are stressed, so will your cat!
During the bath
Use minimum restraint and correct derivation. Avoid scrubbing and holding your cat. Instead, be careful, watch your cat’s body language and create positive distractions, such as a special spreadable treat and – or a wand.
Be extra careful not to spray the face or get water in the ears or eyes. Avoid washing the whiskers. A cat’s whiskers are located where many of the cat’s touch receptors are, and it is only natural that cats hate to have these receptors grazed by water, food, and dirt. Make sure you rinse the shampoo thoroughly to prevent skin irritation.
After the bath
Dry the towel. Gently lift your cat out of the water and immediately wrap it in a warm towel to dry or, if your cat doesn’t prefer to be carried, drain the water and let it dry while she’s still in the bath. Your cat will dry naturally in a few hours, during which time they should be kept warm and away from drafts. End this with a cuddle or play session and your cat’s favorite treat!
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