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Do cats like warm or cold water for baths?

Why Do Cats Hate Water? 6 Reasons Your Kitty Won’t Take a Swim

Feline behavior has been baffling humans for thousands of years. From their perceived arrogance, (they were once worshipped as gods after all), to their obsession with squeezing into boxes—we can all agree cats are unique creatures.

But it’s their reaction to getting wet that is stranger yet. Why do cats hate water when they love fish so much? Why do they not enjoy a dip in the lake like their tiger cousins?

Newsweek asked animal behavior experts to explain this aversion and whether you can train your cat to feel differently.

Why Don’t Cats Like Water?

Not all cats are afraid of water but most will avoid it as much as possible and one of the reasons can be found in their ancestry.

Anna Ewers Clark, veterinary research and standards lead at U.K. pet charity Blue Cross, told Newsweek: «Historically, cats lived in dry, desert environments which means they weren’t adapted to swim or spend time in water, and this trait has passed down to many of our domestic cats.»

Celia Haddon, a cat expert and author, shares this sentiment, telling Newsweek: «Domestic cats are descended from a small desert cat, Felis silvestris Lybica. This wild cat lives in desert areas. That is why our kitty cats enjoy warm areas, sunlight, and dry paws!»

Haddon notes that if your cat did fall in water by accident, it’s not the end of the world as they should be able to swim.

Other reasons for your cat to steer clear of a full bath are matters of comfort and their innate predatory nature. Studies show the average temperature of a feline is around 98.1 to 102.1 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much more than a human body, meaning they have a high heat tolerance and ideally want to stay warm. This warmth is key to preserving energy between lively hunting or play sessions.

As their fur absorbs a lot of water, a drenched coat can make them cold and «can pose a risk to safety as it limits flexibility and mobility,» Pam Johnson-Bennett, an expert from Cat Behavior Associates, told Newsweek.

ginger cat by the sea

Why Are Cats Afraid of Water?

Cats hate water as they understand their environment through their nose and getting wet can remove their personal scent. They can also notice chemicals in the water that humans cannot sense.

A study, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, reveals cats have more sensitive noses than humans and even dogs. Olfaction (sense of smell) is the main method a cat uses to analyze their surroundings and is essential to communication, hunting and detecting predators, as well as a cat’s sense of identity.

The study even goes as far to suggest that cats have the ability to sniff out drugs, bombs and medical odors. Although convincing them to do so might be more difficult. The study explains that a mammal’s nose has three different kinds of scent receptors and one of these, VC1, is believed to control their ability to differentiate between scents. Humans only have two variants of this protein, dogs have nine, while cats have 30.

tabby shorthairedcat walks along beach at sunrise

Water contains chemicals and dissolved matter which a cat’s sensitive nose can pick up. Therefore, cats may avoid water as they don’t want to be contaminated with any unnecessary smells.

Similarly, cats spend a lot of time rubbing themselves on furniture and their humans in order to spread their scent, so understandably they aren’t that keen on having it washed off.

A cat’s fear of water may also be shaped through negative past experiences with getting wet, «such as being squirted as punishment or have had traumatic bathing procedures,» Johnson-Bennett said. As cats do not understand punishment, training a cat with treats and rewarding good behavior is much more effective and less likely to damage their relationship with you.

Why Do Cats Put Toys in Water?

Despite all this, there are plenty of videos online of cats enjoying dipping their paws into water or even the fish bowl!

Clark explained: «The most likely reason is that cats discover how much fun this can be when either they drop their toys in water by accident, or when we place them there to entertain them. It is a novel experience that once learned, can develop into a favorite activity.»

Haddon said: «It gives them a chance to play hunt them out. So their desire to hunt prey overcomes their dislike of water.»

To activate their predator instinct, pop their favorite cat toy (or even a fish for an authentic experience) into a small washing up bowl and watch your kitty try to dig it out.

kitten trying to get at fish bowl

Cat Breeds That Like Water

There are reports of some cat breeds who are more prone to seek out water. Although Clark warns it is important to consider the personality of the cat rather than the breed, as most will still prefer to stay away from the wet.

The breeds below are more likely to take a dip, according to Johnson-Bennett:

  • Savannah
  • Bengal
  • Maine Coon
  • Turkish Van

Johnson-Bennett said: «In fact, the Turkish Van is called ‘The Swimming Cat.'»

This may be because they are known for outgoing adventurous personalities or due to the unique texture of their fur, which is more water-resistant than the average cat.

Can You Train Your Cat to Like Water?

As much as you may want to take your cat swimming, unless they express an interest in playing in water, it is best to let them continue to avoid it.

Haddon said: «There are many more things to train cats to do, which they will enjoy more. Overcoming a cat’s distaste or fear of water by training would not be ethical, in my opinion.»

Washing cats is also not necessary, as unlike dogs most breeds don’t need to bathed ever and this can in fact dry out their skin.

«If you do have a breed that requires some bathing, the easiest way to train is to start when they’re a kitten. If your adult cat needs bathing, it’s best to look for a professional groomer or veterinary clinic that practices very gentle, positive techniques,» Johnson-Bennett said.

If on the off chance your kitty does seem interested when you’re in the bath or by the sink, you can test the waters literally and figuratively by giving them a small shallow bowl they can explore at their own leisure.

Clark said: «Never force or drop your cat into water. This can be incredibly stressful for them, especially if they feel they’re unable to escape. If your cat likes the water, always make sure they have an easy escape route and don’t let them in water that’s deeper than their chest to keep them safe.»

Do Cats Like Cold Water, or is Room Temperature Water Better?

cat drinking water

Cats need water, just like any other animal. If they don’t have access to a water dish, they may start to become dehydrated and their health may suffer. When it comes to keeping your cat hydrated, some people believe that colder water is best because it helps speed up their metabolism and keep them cool, while others argue that room temperature water is just as good because it’s more comfortable for them.

Read on to find out what veterinarians have to say about this question, how to find out which one your cat prefers, why they may have that preference, and the best ways to make sure your cat is getting enough hydration.

Why Many Cats May Prefer Cooler Water

The vast majority of cats prefer cool to cold water because they prefer fresh, running water to stagnant, warm water. This preference can be explained by the fact that a cat in the wild would prefer clean water from a flowing spring. Cats may also prefer cold water is because it can help to cool them down. When a cat gets too hot, their body temperature will be higher than normal. Drinking cold water can help to bring their temperature back down to a healthy level.

In addition, cats may enjoy the taste of cold water or find it refreshing. It’s perhaps this premium on freshness that also explains some cats’ innate affinity for flowing water. Domestic cats will often drink from a running faucet or cat fountain. This positive association with coolness and movement is likely an evolutionary adaptation that served to keep them well-hydrated in the wild.

himalayan cat drinking water hepper nom nom bowl

Is it OK to Give My Cat Ice Cubes?

Many cats enjoy the sensation of playing with ice cubes, possibly because it is a new and different experience for them. Some cats may enjoy licking the ice cube, which can provide them with a refreshing sensation. It is safe to give your cat ice cubes, but you should avoid giving them too many since it can cause “brain freeze” or stomach upset in some cats.

When a cat drinks water that is too cold, the sudden temperature change causes their brain to react by narrowing the blood vessels in an attempt to keep the internal temperature of the brain stable. This can cause a headache or “brain freeze” sensation. You can try giving them a few ice cubes in water to help keep them cool in the summer heat, but avoid putting anything else in the ice cube such as milk or juice, as these are not good nutritional choices for your cat.

How to Find Out What Your Cat Prefers

When it comes to giving your cat a drink, it’s important to keep in mind their personal preference. If you’re not sure whether your cat likes cold or room temperature water, try putting some of each in a small dish and letting them choose.

cat drinking water

The Importance of Keeping Your Cat Hydrated

Water is essential for all life forms and cats are no exception. Just like humans, cats need water to help regulate their body temperature, digest food, and flush toxins from their system. Water also helps keep cats’ skin hydrated, which is important for their well-being since their skin is the largest organ in their body. Proper hydration helps regulate body temperature, helps keep the cat’s epidermis healthy, and can improve its coat condition. Proper hydration is also crucial for digestion, as it helps with the transportation and absorption of nutrients from food. It also helps flush toxins from the body, keeping your cat healthy.

How Does Dehydration Affect My Cat?

Dehydration can lead to a wide variety of health problems in cats, ranging from mild to life-threatening. Depending on the severity of dehydration, it can affect cats in a number of ways. It can cause them to become lethargic, and their body temperature may drop. Their heart rate may also slow down, and they may stop urinating.

Sustained lack of hydration can lead to a wide variety of health problems in cats, including urinary tract infections, kidney disease, and liver disease. In severe cases, dehydration can lead to seizures and even death. This is because a lack of hydration can lead to a reduced flow of blood and oxygen to the major organs. This can cause the organs to malfunction, which can be fatal.

A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery found that cats who drink more water have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop heart disease or hypertension.

How Much Water Does My Cat Need a Day?

A cat needs about 1–2 cups of water per day, depending on its size, lifestyle, and activity level. For example, cats that live in a warm climate or that are particularly active may need more water than those that live in a cooler climate or are less active. A cat needs to consume approximately 1 oz of water per pound of body weight per day in order to stay hydrated. This means that a 10-pound cat would need to drink approximately 10 oz of water per day.

Wet food typically contains up to 80% water, while dry food contains around 5%–10% water. A 10-lb cat that is fed wet food may only need to top up with one to two ounces of fresh water each day, whereas a cat fed on dry food may need to drink a lot more.

However, all cats should have access to clean, fresh water at all times. They can always refuse it, and it’s better to give them the option because hydration helps keep the cat’s body functioning properly and inadequate fluid consumption can lead to chronic and acute health problems.

How to Encourage Your Cat to Drink More Water

There are a few things that you can do to encourage your cat to drink more water. One is to make sure that their water and water bowl are always fresh and clean, and that there is a dish of water available at all times. You can also try adding more wet food to your cat’s diet, as opposed to dry kibble, as this will help them stay hydrated.

If your cat still isn’t drinking enough water, you can try mixing a small amount of water into their food. You can also try adding a little bit of chicken or fish broth—a favorite flavor for cats—to make it more appealing. It’s also thought that “thickening” the water, i.e. increasing its viscosity, makes it easier for the cat to lap up and therefore more attractive to them.


In conclusion, it seems that cats prefer cool temperature water to warm water. However, if you are concerned about your cat drinking enough water, then providing a bowl of any temperature water is better than no water at all. So feel free to give your cat both room temperature and cold water and let them choose which they prefer. In addition, by following the tips provided in this article, you can encourage your cat to drink more water. This is important for their health and can help keep them hydrated.

  • See Also:Can You Catch a Cold from Your Cat?

Featured Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

  • Why Many Cats May Prefer Cooler Water
  • Is it OK to Give My Cat Ice Cubes?
  • How to Find Out What Your Cat Prefers
  • The Importance of Keeping Your Cat Hydrated
  • How Does Dehydration Affect My Cat?
  • How Much Water Does My Cat Need a Day?
  • How to Encourage Your Cat to Drink More Water
  • Conclusion

Do Cats Like Warm or Cold Water? Exploring the Preferences of Our Feline Friends in 2023

Cats are fascinating creatures with unique personalities, behaviors, and preferences. One such preference is their choice of water temperature, which .

Cats are fascinating creatures with unique personalities, behaviors, and preferences. One such preference is their choice of water temperature, which has been a topic of debate among cat owners for years. In this article, we will explore whether cats like warm or cold water, and what factors influence their preference.

Table Of Contents Show

  • Pros and Cons
  • Pros of Warm Water
  • Cons of Warm Water
  • Pros of Cold Water
  • Cons of Cold Water
  • Alternatives
  • Step by Step Guide


This section will discuss who might be interested in this topic and why.

  • Cat owners who want to ensure their pets are comfortable and happy
  • Veterinarians and animal behaviorists who work with cats
  • Researchers and scientists studying cat behavior and physiology
  • Anyone curious about the preferences of these fascinating animals


In this section, we will define the topic and provide some background information.

  • The debate over whether cats prefer warm or cold water
  • Factors that may influence a cat’s water temperature preference, such as weather, age, and health
  • The importance of providing fresh, clean water to cats
  • Tips for encouraging cats to drink more water


This section will touch on seasonal and situational factors that may affect a cat’s water temperature preference.

  • How weather conditions can impact a cat’s preference for warm versus cold water
  • Whether cats prefer different water temperatures at different times of day
  • How a cat’s age and health may influence water temperature preference

How To

This section will provide practical advice for cat owners on how to determine their cat’s water temperature preference and how to accommodate it.

  • Observing your cat’s behavior around water to determine their preference
  • Experimenting with different water temperatures to see what your cat prefers
  • Tips for keeping your cat’s water clean and fresh
  • Strategies for encouraging cats to drink more water, regardless of temperature preference

Pros and Cons

This section will weigh the advantages and disadvantages of providing cats with warm or cold water.

Pros of Warm Water

  • May be more comfortable for cats in cold weather
  • Can help encourage hydration, especially in older cats or those with dental issues

Cons of Warm Water

  • Can promote bacterial growth in the water bowl
  • May not be refreshing or appealing to cats in warmer weather

Pros of Cold Water

  • Can be more refreshing and appealing to cats in warm weather
  • Helps cool down cats during hot weather

Cons of Cold Water

  • May discourage drinking in cats with sensitive teeth or gums
  • Can cause discomfort in cats with arthritis or other joint issues


This section will explore alternative options for providing cats with water and discuss their pros and cons.

  • Using a pet fountain that filters and circulates water
  • Offering cats ice cubes or frozen treats to provide a cold drink
  • Mixing wet food with water to increase overall water intake

Step by Step Guide

This section will provide a step-by-step guide for cat owners who want to determine their cat’s water temperature preference and accommodate it.

  1. Observe your cat’s behavior around water to see if they have a preference for warm or cold water.
  2. Experiment with different water temperatures to see what your cat prefers.
  3. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of your cat’s preferred water.
  4. Adjust the temperature of your cat’s water as needed to accommodate their preference.
  5. Keep your cat’s water clean and fresh by changing it regularly and washing their water bowl.


This section will compare cats’ water temperature preferences with those of other animals.

  • Dogs: generally prefer cool water, but individual preferences can vary
  • Birds: prefer room temperature or lukewarm water
  • Fish: require specific water temperatures based on their species and environment


This section will provide additional tips for cat owners on how to ensure their cats are drinking enough water and staying hydrated.

  • Offer multiple water sources throughout the house, including bowls and fountains
  • Provide wet food to increase overall water intake
  • Ensure that water bowls are large enough for cats to drink comfortably

The Best

This section will provide a summary of the best practices for cat owners to ensure their cats are drinking enough water and staying hydrated.

  • Observe your cat’s behavior around water to determine their preference
  • Experiment with different water temperatures to accommodate your cat’s preference
  • Keep your cat’s water clean and fresh by changing it regularly
  • Offer multiple water sources throughout the house
  • Provide wet food to increase overall water intake


  1. Can cats drink hot water?
  2. It is not recommended to offer cats hot water as it can burn their tongue and throat.
  1. Why do some cats paw at their water before drinking it?
  2. This behavior may be a way for cats to test the water temperature and ensure it’s comfortable to drink.
  1. How much water should cats drink each day?
  2. The amount of water a cat needs depends on their age, size, andhealth status, but as a general guideline, cats should drink about 2-4 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day.
  1. Can I add flavorings to my cat’s water to encourage them to drink more?
  2. It’s best to avoid adding sweeteners or artificial flavorings to your cat’s water as they may not be safe for cats. Instead, try offering wet food or using a pet fountain to increase overall water intake.
  1. What should I do if my cat doesn’t seem to like drinking water?
  2. If your cat is not drinking enough water, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues. Additionally, you can encourage your cat to drink more water by providing multiple water sources, using a pet fountain, and offering wet food.


In conclusion, understanding our cat’s preferences when it comes to water temperature can help us provide better care for our feline friends. By observing their behavior and experimenting with different water temperatures, we can ensure that our cats are comfortable and hydrated. Remember to keep their water clean and fresh, offer multiple water sources, and consult with your veterinarian if you have concerns about your cat’s water intake.

Topic: do cats like warm or cold water

Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters

Sarah is a freelance health and wellness writer with a passion for sharing the latest research and information on topics ranging from fitness and nutrition to mindfulness and meditation. With a degree in nutrition and a background in personal training, Sarah combines her expertise with a love of writing to create engaging and informative content that inspires and empowers readers to live their healthiest, happiest lives. When she’s not writing, you can find Sarah hiking, practicing yoga, or experimenting with new healthy recipes in the kitchen.

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