Cats and water: everything you need to know!

Do cats hate water? In fact, the answer is much more complex than a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Dr Maria Grazia Calore, veterinary surgeon and expert in pet behaviour helps us to investigate.

A cat was originally a desert animal

Once animals of the desert, cats got most of their fluids from the prey they hunted, so by their nature they tended not to drink very much. Our domestic felines generally reflect this trend, but because we also feed them dry food nowadays, they should always have fresh water to make up for the hydration missing from their food.

Why doesn’t my cat does drink from its bowl?

In an ideal situation a cat’s water should be located away from their food and litter as in a cat’s mind, water close to these items, even if fresh and clean, could be polluted and therefore dangerous. In addition, a bowl with a wide but shallow diameter is better for a cat than a narrow and tall one; this is because in nature, a cat chooses to drink from shallow water that does not hide predators in its depths.

Water always fresh and clean!

A cat will always look for fresh, clean and not stagnant water to drink. For this reason, it is common to see cats drinking from the tap: some learn how to turn the tap on themselves, while others ask their owners to do the honours!

Water: a fascinating element to explore!

Many cats are fascinated by the movement and sound of running water and seem to appear by your side whenever a tap is turned on. They never seem to bore of playing, drinking or bathing in it!

Some breeds of cats love swimming

There are certain breeds of cats that feel so comfortable in the water that they learn to swim without fear; the Turkish Angora, Turkish Van, Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat are among these water-loving breeds. This affection for all things aquatic is likely linked to the water-rich environments of their origins, and their ability to swim probably evolved to allow them to hunt in their region’s watercourses.

Why does my cat upset the water bowl?

Some cats do it to play or to explore things floating in the water, like little fragments of kibble or fine dust. Other cats are attracted by the design on the bottom of the bowl and try to catch the prey that it represents.

Can we bathe cats like dogs?

In general, a cat is able to keep its coat clean and tidy itself, but if a bath is really necessary here’s how you can make the experience as enjoyable as possible. The water should be warm (about 38°C) and the cat should be washed from back to front, with the exception of the head, using a gentle stream of water. Talking in a soothing voice will also reassure your cat that all is well. Your cat can then be dried using a towel or a hairdryer on a quiet a setting. There are also dry shampoos that can be used to remove dirt and dust thus avoiding the trauma of a bath altogether, however these should be used sparingly so as not to upset the delicate balance of our four-legged friend’s skin.