Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jessica. Jessica Wonders, “Why don't cats like water?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jessica!

Have you ever had a pet? If so, you know taking care of an animal can be a lot of fun. Of course, it’s also hard work. Pet owners have to feed and exercise their animals every day. Plus, they often need to coax their pets into things they don’t enjoy. If you’ve ever tried to give a cat a bath, you know exactly what we mean! Many cats will do anything to avoid contact with water.

Why don’t cats like water? Experts have many answers to that question. Some say domestic cats hate water because they aren’t around it early in life. If cats don’t spend much time in water as kittens, they’re more likely to be afraid of it. This is a common problem because many pet owners don’t bathe their cats, since felines groom themselves.

Additionally, many cats learn to associate water with punishment. That’s because many pet owners spray water at cats to make them stop doing something the owner doesn’t like. This teaches the cat that water means they’ve done something wrong. It’s no WONDER they run from a bath!

Another explanation has to do with evolution. Cats are what experts call “semi-domesticated.” That means they still have some instincts from their wild ancestors. Cats don’t like surprises, and they like to stay agile in case they need to escape a threat. Wet fur can weigh a cat down, making them move slower. That means cats may think water puts them in danger, making them less able to run away if they need to.

Have you ever been caught in the rain without an umbrella? Was that an enjoyable experience for you? While some may say yes, most people don’t like to be trapped in a downpour unprepared. When cats are sprayed with a hose or submerged in a bath unexpectedly, they feel the same way. 

Do all cats hate water? No, of course not! In fact, several members of the feline family like water a lot. This is especially true of large cats that live in hot climates. Tigers, jaguars, and leopards are good swimmers. They often go for a dip to cool off on hot days.

Another big cat that’s known for its love of water is the fishing cat. Most common in swampy areas of Asia, fishing cats have partially webbed feet that help them swim. While most fishing cats live away from urban areas, people have spotted small groups of them in cities in recent years. In one example, a fishing cat was caught sneaking into an office complex for nightly snacks from the koi pond! 

It may not be surprising that some wild felines like water. But some house cats don’t mind water, either. In fact, the Turkish Van has such an affinity for water that it’s nicknamed the “swimming cat.” Large for a house cat, Turkish Vans can weigh as much as 18 pounds. This water-loving feline is a common choice for pet owners.

Other water-loving cats include Bengals, Maine coons, and savannah cats. The Manx, American bobtail, and Japanese bobtail are also known to go for a dip now and then. So, the idea that cats don’t like water is only partially true. Many cats dislike getting wet, but plenty of others don’t really mind it at all. 

Are you a cat owner? If so, have no fear! There are plenty of ways to teach a cat to like water—or at least not to hate it. If your pet is a kitten, it’s best to expose them to water early and often. The more your cat is around water, the more likely they are to like it. It also helps to avoid using water as punishment. Otherwise, cats will learn to fear water.

Do you like being around cats?  They’re the second most common pets in the world, right behind dogs. It’s clear that their water-hating reputation doesn’t make cats any less popular among humans.

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