6 Cat Breeds That May Actually Like Water

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

cat breeds that like water

Story at-a-glance -

  • Most domesticated cats don’t enjoy water, probably because they evolved from desert dwelling wild cats
  • Another reason is probably that cat fur holds water and takes a very long time to dry
  • Breeds that are more likely to acclimate to water include the American Shorthair, American Bobtail, Bengal, Maine Coon, Turkish Angora, and Turkish Van
  • It’s important to ensure your feline family member eats a moisture-dense diet, since cats have a lower thirst drive than other animals and can become chronically dehydrated eating dry food

Most people correctly believe that cats don't enjoy water, as in, being immersed in it. Cats will drink water, and many like to watch and even interact with moving water, but the whole bath and swimming thing, not so much. And this actually makes perfect sense when you consider feline evolution.

Why (Most) Cats Loathe Being in Water

Domestic cats evolved from desert-dwelling ancestors and there's little water to be found in dry, arid climates. That's probably why navigating bodies of water for any purpose doesn't come naturally to cats. It's also why they aren't as responsive as other animals to sensations of thirst or dehydration, and must get most of the moisture their bodies need from the food they eat.

According to certified cat behavior consultant Marilyn Krieger in an interview with PetMD, another possible reason that felines are averse to water is they don't like change. "The feel of water on their fur can be uncomfortable and cause stress," says Krieger.1

Certified cat behavior consultant Ingrid Johnson told PetMD another reason that kitties tend to avoid water is related to their coats.

"The reason it is more common for certain breeds such as Turkish Van and Turkish Angora cats to like water is that their coats are more water-resistant than other breeds," says Johnson. "As a whole, a cat's coat holds water, and it takes them a very long time to dry off, which makes being wet very unappealing."2

Johnson also says cats don't want the natural scent of their fur to be washed away:

"There is comfort for cats in being saturated in their own scents. Water actually grooms away their natural odor. When grooming, they deposit their own saliva on their coat. Water dilutes their natural odor, so they lick to get their own scent back."

With all that said, certain cat breeds actually seem to have an affinity for the wet stuff.

Water-Friendly Cat Breeds

It's important to keep in mind that while the following breeds are less likely to hate being in water than others, every kitty is an individual, so breed generalities don't always apply.

American Shorthair — If you have an American Shorthair, you might find him dipping his paws into his water bowl and licking them dry instead of drinking from the bowl. One possible reason for this is whisker fatigue, so you might want to try putting his water in a bowl larger than the outside tips of his whiskers.

On the other hand, he might simply be making a game of it, since many kitties are endlessly fascinated with moving water. For some, an even more enjoyable game involves dumping the entire bowl of water on the floor.

American Bobtail — These kitties are known as the Golden Retrievers of the cat world because they enjoy retrieving things from the water. For an indoor cat, this often means her toy mice or other treasures are regularly dunked in her water bowl, or even the toilet bowl.

Bengal — These gorgeous creatures have a fascination for floating objects they can stalk and bat around — perhaps a bar of soap in the bathtub, a wooden spoon in the kitchen sink or the ice cubes in your martini. Needless to say, aquariums should have a secure lid!

Maine Coon — Speaking of gorgeous, interestingly, Maine Coons have some things in common with raccoons, one being a tendency to dunk their favorite toys in their water bowl, push their bowl around (spilling their water) and using their paws to scoop and drink.

To protect your floors from water damage, you might want to put kitty's water bowl on a placemat, and keep those lids down or you may find your feline family member enjoying a paddle party in the toilet bowl.

Turkish Angora — Believe it or not, Turkish Angora cats have a reputation for surprising their humans by joining them in the shower or bathtub. They're also known for their love of sitting on sink counters playing with water from the faucet.

Turkish Van — Turkish Vans probably win the prize for being the most acclimated to water and enjoy swimming and playing in it. In fact, this breed is the subject of interesting folklore that may explain its name: A pair of Turkish Vans on Noah's Ark, which lodged on Mount Ararat in Turkey when the flood waters receded, are said to have gotten so hot in the arid climate that they jumped into the water and swam to Lake Van.

Sphynx (just kidding!) — The Sphynx, a hairless breed, isn't on anyone's list of water-loving cats. And then there's Cooper:

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How to Help Your Cat Stay Well Hydrated (on the Inside!)

As I mentioned earlier, felines are designed by nature to get most of the moisture their bodies need from the food they eat. The best nourishment for healthy cats of any age is their ancestral diet: minimally processed raw or gently cooked, organic, non-GMO whole foods that are nutritionally balanced for felines. This diet naturally includes animal meat, which should be the foundation of your kitty's diet throughout her life.

Foods that have not been ultra-processed, or extruded (e.g., kibble), are the most assimilable for your cat's body. Biologically appropriate foods for cats are high in moisture and protein and very low in carbohydrates. Most of the moisture in fresh food remains in the food, whereas kibble can have drastically depleted moisture content and denatured proteins.

If you can't feed fresh food, the second-best diet is a dehydrated or freeze-dried balanced diet that has been reconstituted with an abundance of water or broth.

Studies of healthy cats fed wet vs. dry food show that cats on diets with high moisture content rarely visit the water bowl, yet they consume double the amount of moisture as cats eating kibble. Most kibble-fed cats don't demonstrate a high enough thirst drive to make up the water deficit at the water bowl.

If you're concerned about your cat's water intake, consider adding water to her food. You can also try adding flavoring to the water (for example, the liquid from a can of tuna or salmon) to make it more enticing, or add bone broth. Also, some cats will drink more water from a pet water fountain. Provide filtered, fluoride and chlorine-free fresh water in a Pyrex glass or stainless steel bowl; avoid plastic bowls. 

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