Guest post courtesy of Amber Kingsley. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and do not necessarily represent the views of Val Heart & Heart Communications Enterprises Inc.
We’ve all been fed so many “old wives tales” over the years, especially when it comes to cats. Some are bizarrely superstitious, like black cats being bad luck. Even weirder is the tale that they steal the breath away from newborn infants. Or how about the “fact” that they have nine lives or always land on their feet. But one of the better known cat-associated tales is that cats hate water.
While it’s true many breeds of cats are not necessarily water-friendly, there are many that do enjoy going for a swim, especially in hot and arid living environments. For example, in the wild kingdom, you’ll often see tigers enjoying a swim, even preying on one of their favorite foods – fish. But on the other hand, lions and leopards will usually avoid rivers and streams. They steer clear of some of the very few predators that pose a potential risk to them, like crocodiles.
DEEPER THAN DOMESTIC
Since our more domesticated and docile kitties are considered distant descendants of these big cats, it wouldn’t be fair to say that ALL cats hate water or that cats shouldn’t be leery of H₂O as an instinctual trait. Let’s delve deeper and see what we find underneath these murky waters.
Animal Planet tells us an irrational fear that some domesticated cats have about water may have come from their masters. Many humans have been shielding them from the elements over the centuries since we have adopted them as our pets. We’ve been protecting them from heavy rainstorms and other exposure to these types of wet experiences. Therefore, they may never have accepted some of Mother Nature’s fury or learned to deal with it.
Further water aversion comes from people who use water as a punishment for cats that may claw furniture or display other destructive behaviors. They squirt them with water as a non-violent deterrent. Perhaps their owner gave them a forced bathing experience or they got caught outside during a torrential downpour.
Regardless of the nature of this exposure, they may have had a bad experience with their exposure to water. But cats, curious by nature, can wind up in desperate need of a bath. And as their masters, we need to step up and take this responsibility. Whether they wound up in a sticky situation or came in contact with a smelly critter like a skunk, we need to respond with appropriate cleanup measures that require soap and water.
WATER TORTURE OR TREAT?
Despite some of them having an aversion to being completely immersed in water, many cats find that hypnotizing “drip-drip-drip” of a faucet fascinating. Some enjoy laying in empty, cool sinks during hotter months. Either way, cats still need water to survive, just like any other animal and are not necessarily scared of getting wet.
Unlike dogs, cats don’t really need much time in the bathtub due to their ritualistic grooming routines. Owners can reassure them that water isn’t necessarily a trauma when they’re still youngsters. Start them out when they’re kittens and try introducing them by rubbing a soothing, warm washcloth over them.
Introduce them into temperature-appropriate water temperatures and refrain from dunking them completely until they begin to become accustomed to the wetness. While they may take to a litter box almost immediately, getting them used to being wet is easier when they’re just kittens. By introducing your cat to water at a younger age, you help them to be tolerant in the future.
Article written by Amber Kingsley
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