To bathe a cat requires brute force, perseverance, courage of conviction - and a cat. The last ingredient is the hardest to come by.
— Stephen Baker
Cats dislike water and avoid it whenever possible. It's their Weaksauce Weakness
As far as Truth in Television
goes, your kitties may vary; many actually do
like water at least to some degree. In addition to certain breeds of domestic felines and quite a few moggies, many "big cats" and "small cats" enjoy swimming. But we don't recommend giving your pet cat a bath without expert supervision as for many cats, this is largely Truth in Television
Compare to Hates Baths
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Anime and Manga
- In the Sumomomo Momomo manga, the male lead uses this and other stereotypical cat habits to defeat a tiger-themed opponent. (But see Real Life entries below.)
- Possibly explained in an episode of Darker Than Black. Clueless Detective Kurosawa is afraid of cats and is able to identify the house of another cat hater by an important detail. There are lots of water bottles outside, and he explains that the reflection of light off of the water is used to keep them away.
- Pokémon: Meowth hates water, especially wet water!!note
- In Omamori Himari, Himari Noihara, being a Cat Girl, refuses to get in any water deep enough to swim in. However, she doesn't mind taking a shower or bath.
- In Fruits Basket's Beach Arc, Kyo (the Cat) doesn't intend to swim, until Haru baits him into a contest with Yuki. He's actually not that bad a swimmer, and he certainly doesn't hate it as much as leeks.
- For Streaky the Super Cat, an Animal Superhero in the Superman comics, water serves as a literal Kryptonite.
- Tigra, a female cat woman of The Avengers hates water because of her feline body.
- Piers Anthony's Xanth novel A Spell for Chameleon. While trying to enter the Magician Humfrey's castle, Bink comes up against a guardian Cactus Cat. He uses its fear of water to get past it.
- The cats from three of the Clans in the Warrior Cats series don't particularly like water, but they will go in the water if they have to, while the fourth Clan, RiverClan, loves the water and regularly goes swimming and fishing.
- Played deadly serious in the Redwall book Mossflower, when Tsarmina is driven to insanity by the sound of dripping water and eventually drowns to death.
- Septimus Heap: The reason why Bert, Aunt Zelda's cat, became a duck.
- Inverted in Alan Dean Foster's Day of the Dissonance. Main character Jon-Tom goes swimming while at the beach and is surprised when tiger Roseroar joins him, expecting the trope to be in effect. She tells him that it's true for other cats but not tigers (see Real Life, below).
- The kids book Bad Kitty Gets a Bath makes full use of this trope. The narrator tries persuasion, threats, bribery, fawning and reverse psychology to get Bad Kitty to take a bath, to no avail. Finally, she is persuaded after she finds out that Poor Puppy will be getting one, too. Poor Puppy is blissfully unaware that he's not supposed to like baths, which irks Bad Kitty no end.
- Played with in a Garfield strip. Garfield spends most of the strip playing in a sprinkler. Then Jon announces its bath time and Garfield bolts away.
- The very first strip involving Garfield and baths demonstrated the proper equipment one should use to bathe a cat who has not been declawed - Chain mail, steel gauntlets, and a football helmet.
- In Calvin and Hobbes, when Calvin's mom has signed him up for swimming lessons against his will, he asks her if she signed Hobbes up too. She tells him that "it's not good to get tigers wet." Hobbes's own explanation: "It takes us all day to dry, and until we do, we smell funny."
- Sly 2: Band Of Thieves, the main characters plan to force the villainous tiger Rajan out of hiding by flooding his base, specifically because cats hate water. Even though tigers are one of the types that don't.
- Chen, the little nekomata Catgirl from Touhou, is weakened by water. Not only does she hate water as a cat, but water also weakens her shikigami link with her master.
- Uncharted: Nate's memetic headshot kill taunt "Awww. Kitty got wet", was actually from Nolan North's son while they were playing Wii Tennis.
- Played With and Averted: The adult cats in Minecraft decide to swim along with you when you swim and don't avoid water when you are standing and water is near. The ocelots in the game don't swim in water like the cows, sheep, chickens, pigs, wolves, dogs, and spiders would though.
- Lionheart for the Amiga uses this as a Hand Wave for Super Drowning Skills.
- In Girl Genius, Krosp takes the controls of their falling airship and totals it, crashing it into a hill, to avoid landing in the lake, since then he'd get wet.
- ...and that's nothing to his reaction to the sewers under Sturmhalten. Of course, having spent all his life on the Castle Wulfenbach, he didn't know what a sewer was when he went down there...
- Well, what really bothered him about the sewer was when he fell in—and then a Jaeger suggested he could lick himself clean....
- In Sluggy Freelance even cats who are the demonic offspring of Satan don't like getting wet, particularly since it makes their cude widdle bat wings useless.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl, Lucy became hydrophobic after Mike almost drowned when they were younger.
- Averted in Kevin & Kell with a tigress who was able to attend law school (with sharks) because tigers like water.
- Chev in Papi Nyang refuses to escape his "prison" when it's raining because he hates the rain.
- The Cyantian Chronicles Plays it straight for most cats, including the subversion that Tigers love water.
- Francine's Cat "Nemo" in Arthur was afraid of water as a result of being read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea until she hypnotized him into thinking otherwise.
- The Looney Tunes cartoon, "Fin 'N Catty", features a cat trying to eat a goldfish despite his obsessive-compulsive fear of water (even one drop makes him run to get a paper towel and dry off furiously). After being trapped in a flooded shower stall, he not only overcomes his fear, but he also starts sleeping inside a fishbowl.
- CatDog; another way Cat's a foil to his other half Dog.
- There was an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants where Gary the snail (which is the show's equivalent to a cat) didn't want to take a bath and SpongeBob tried many ways to get him to take one, this case is particularly unusual considering that the entire show takes place underwater.
- In The Avengers: United They Stand Tigra revealed she has a paralyzing fear of water because she is half cat.
- In Ice Age: The Meltdown, sabretooth tiger Diego is afraid of water since he can't swim. It takes a while for him to overcome this.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures episode "Enter the Cat", Valmont (and later Jade) is transformed into a Cat Guy after being scratched by a cat statue. Jade is trying to retrieve the statue for Jackie, but Valmont hears her and corners her. So she grabs a hose and turns it on him, full blast. He yowls and runs off while Jade says this trope verbatim.
- This is the case for Maximus I.Q., the cat-like Big Bad of Atomic Betty. He can't swim and hates water, almost to the point of it being an Achilles' Heel for him.
- In the animated Disney film The Aristocats, while on their way back to Paris, Duchess, Thomas O'Malley and the kittens all walk onto a railroad track, but when a train comes, the cats all duck underneath the rails, but in the process Marie falls into a nearby river and she cannot swim. O'Malley jumps into the water and gets Marie back to shore, but then it turns out that O'Malley also cannot swim as well. As a result he had to rely entirely on a pair of geese in order for him to get out of the water.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode, "Sweet and Elite", Rarity telekinetically forced a quick shower on her cat Opal in an attempt to make her "my cat got sick" excuse more real. Much yowling was heard during the impromptu bath, with Opal giving a Death Glare to her owner afterwards.
- Done more subtly in the third movie of Shrek where a soaking, shivering, near-traumatized Puss in Boots is clinging onto Shrek after the trio dunk themselves in water. Anyone in the audience can tell he obviously didn't enjoy the experience.
- Played with more overtly in Puss in Boots when a guard uses a squirt bottle to punish Puss for an attempt to escape jail.
- When Steven Universe tries to learn how to shape-shift, it goes out of control and his body is covered in cat creatures. He figures out how to get rid of them by having his dad spray him with a hose.
- Most breeds of domestic cat and many moggies do hate water if it's forced upon them, and many turn into furry cuisinarts when a bathtub full of water is threatened. However, some cats don't mind water if they're introduced to it gently (for baths, it helps if it's very warm) and some certainly don't mind getting wet while drinking from a faucet.
- The issue is with instincts. Domestic cats are descended from wildcats that lived primarily in desert areas, so as a rule, they have an instinctual fear of large bodies of water (they so seldom see them). For that matter, dog breeds from similar areas have similar aversion to water. This instinct is not as strong in some cats, and it can be completely overcome with training (although it's easier to do it before the cat in question is full-grown).
- There's also the issue of temperature. Being descended from desert animals, many cats hate being cold, and a thorough soaking will allow air to get to the skin more easily, never mind the evaporating water taking some body heat with it. Only a few breeds have coats that can be considered water-resistant (Maine Coons are one such breed, as well as Turkish Vans, explained directly below).
- It's often considered that a lot of cats don't like baths because they're not accustomed to it. Cats rarely get bathed - typically only when they get extremely dirty or have a flea/tick issue - as they clean themselves so they aren't used to it.
- This aversion can be exploited as a means of behavior deterrence: fill a squirt bottle with water, and start squirting at a house cat who is misbehaving. In true Pavlovian fashion, eventually the cat will stop misbehaving when you even reach for a squirt bottle.
- Real Life Aversion: The Turkish Van, also known as the 'swimming cat', who as their name suggests, don't mind getting wet, and have been know to go swimming. This is explained by their silky dense water-repellent coats, which dry nearly instantly even in cold seasons.
- The relatively new Bengal cats, Savannas, American Bobtails, LaPerms, Kurilian Bobtails, and Pixie Bobs are known for being rather unafraid of water, as are American Shorthairs, Turkish Angoras, and Maine Coons. Many have been reported joining their master for a bath, whether the master wanted it to or not.
- The "Toyger" supposedly didn't mind water, according to the breeder.
- Wild cat inversions: Tigers and jaguars LOVE water and are excellent swimmers, and jaguars are known to hunt fish, turtles & small caimans note Also, there's a smaller Asian cat species known as the fishing cat, which has webbed feet. Heck, just look around any zoo.
- Unlike tigers, lions have a large aversion to water. Presumably, this brings a lot of confusion to the poor hybrid ligers and tigons, who can't make up their mind whether to swim in joy or drown in fear.
- Though in places like the Okavango Delta lions do swim regularly in search of prey; considering the area is practically all covered in water during wet seasons they are pretty much forced to.
- Ligers have a lot of conflicting behaviors and instincts, but they seem to universally love water.
- Tigers in the "Out of Africa" zoo in Arizona regularly go for a dip in the pool, there's even an event based around this called, "Tiger Splash".
- According to some reports, cougars dislike immersing in water, but will swim in it if necessary. The only noted exception is the extremely endangered subspecies known as the Florida panther, which handled large bodies of water and swimming with aplomb. It's hard to be sure since the creatures are so elusive or, in the case of the Florida panther, possibly extinct.
- The infamous "cat bombs" of World War II. It was suggested that, as cats hate water and always land on their feet, they believed strapping a cat to a bomb could guide it toward naval ships. Needless to say, field tests of the "idea" were a complete failure, and didn't do the cat any good either.
- Then, there's this girl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bScOj4e0bOQ , who swims because she likes it...and her master taught her to scuba dive. The dog does, too.
- Scottish Wildcats show a reduced fear of water compared to many domestic cats note and are suggested to occasionally fish. Rather than diving in like the specialised Fishing Cat, they dip their paws into shallow burns or loch edges to try and scoop out passing fish just as a kitten scoops a ball into the air over its head then turns and pounces onto it. While very fun, it's also instinct teaching the kitten how to fish.
- Almost any cat can be conditioned to not mind water by exposing them to wet environments since early kittenhood.