Common questions about cats and water
It’s not true that all cats hate water – in fact, some cats love taking a dip! However, most cats’ instinct for not getting wet stems from their long history of domestication, as well as their strong survival instincts. They’re used to being dry, and they’d like it to stay that way.
Cats have been domesticated for hundreds of years, beginning in Egypt and other countries with hot, dry climates. In the early stages of their evolution, they didn’t need to cope with a huge amount of water – getting wet would rarely have been necessary for their survival. Cats would also have been shielded from the elements by their owners. Many dog breeds, on the other hand, have been bred to hunt and joint their owners outdoors in less sunny climates, which would mean coping with all kinds of weather. This is probably why so many dogs love flinging themselves into water when they’re on a walk.
Remember that there are few advantages to a domestic cat getting wet, which gives them little reason to do so. They can usually keep themselves very clean without the use of water, they can’t shake themselves dry like dogs, and they haven’t evolved to hunt in or around water. We all know how cats like to curl up in a warm spot indoors, too – being immersed in water may leave them feeling far too cool for their liking.
For most cats, there simply isn’t any advantage to getting wet. If they successfully avoid getting wet for most of their lives, they’ll be even less used to it, and their aversion may strengthen over time. This isn’t anything to worry about – there are few circumstances under which a cat will need to get wet, and if they are caught in a downpour or find themselves in water, it’s unlikely to do them any harm.
Can cats swim?
Surprisingly, cats are natural swimmers. They don’t need to be taught how to swim – if they find themselves in a body of water their instinct will be to stay afloat, just like a dog. Most cats are unlikely to stay in the water for longer than necessary, but if they find themselves in a sticky situation, they will have no problem with jumping into water to escape.
The idea of a cat being able to swim isn’t so strange. In very warm climates, wild cats – the ancestors of your domestic friend – will often swim or wade in water to cool themselves down, and some wild cats even fish. All cats, domestic or otherwise, are brilliant at looking after themselves. The ability to swim is just one of their many survival skills.
Are Turkish Vans a swimming cat breed?
Many people believe that Turkish Van cats love the water, and will take any opportunity to swim. This isn’t a proven fact, but many Turkish Van owners report their cat wanting to play in the bath and shower, as well as taking the opportunity for a dip whenever they see a body of water.
It’s possible that Turkish Van cats are no fonder of water than any other breed, as there is only anecdotal evidence for their water-loving ways. One certainty is that your cat’s level of aversion to water will also depend on their personality. Some cats are naturally very cautious, whereas others love to play and explore, even if it means dipping their paw in the sink every now and then. If your cat loves to play with the tap and they aren’t doing any harm, let them have fun. But if they show no interest in going near water, don’t push them – they probably won’t respond very well!
Are cats scared of water?
Most cats dislike water, but they don’t actually fear it. This is why they have no problem launching themselves into water if it’s the only way to escape. Cats prefer to stay warm and dry, but because they can naturally swim, avoiding water is more of a preference than a necessity. Many cats even enjoy playing with a dripping tap, something they certainly wouldn’t do if they were afraid!
Why is my cat playing with water?
Even if your cat has never shown any inclination to swim, they may be completely fascinated by running water. Many cats take no notice at all, but others will happily stare at, or swat, a dripping tap for hours. Some cats will even come running when the shower is turned on – not necessarily to jump in, but to stand and watch.
There is no proven reason for this behaviour, but there are plenty of theories as to why some cats love playing with water. A popular theory is that the sight and sound of dripping water triggers their hunting instincts. The noise of pattering water, as well as its movement – especially if it catches the light – may put them into predator mode. If you’ve ever seen your cat chase a laser pointer or pounce on a toy mouse, you’ll recognise the same intent look when they’re playing with water.
They’ll soon realise it’s nothing that they can catch and eat, but it doesn’t stop them being fascinated. If your cat love swatting your dripping tap and they’re not in a precarious position, it’s fine to let them carry on.