The dislike of cats for water is well known. However, is it really an aversion and what causes it? The genetic studies carried out on the ancestors of the current domestic cat conclude that the trajectory of the interactions that these animals have had with water marks their behavior with said environment.
The African wild cat or that of the Chinese desert, from which the present-day pussycat comes, developed in desert areas where the presence of the liquid element was testimonial. Thus, in these more than 9500 years of history the feline has evolved little in its relationship with water, feeling great respect, and a certain magnetism, towards it.
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Why do cats avoid water?
As we say, and although, in general, cats are good swimmers, their experience with water throughout their existence has been discreet. The brain of the kittens with whom we live today continues to process the reality that surrounds them in a very similar way to that of their ancestors.
Due to their survival instinct, they avoid water because when their fur gets wet, it becomes very heavy and that reduces their agility and freedom of movement. Similarly, if all their fur is wet, their body temperature drops and this reduces their ability to react to possible predators.
Felines prefer to maintain a discreet relationship with water. They can spend hours gawking at the bottom of a basin full of water, sniffing it and even insert a leg, but diving without a clear purpose does not suit them. For this reason, specialists advise getting them used to the bathroom from puppies.
There are feline breeds that greatly enjoy being submerged in water. They are native to forests or areas with swamps in which they have been naturally related to water. We refer to the Maine Coon , the Norwegian Forest Cat, the Siberian, the Turkish Van or the fishing cat from the swamps of India and Indonesia.
All of them enjoy playing with the water and will not hesitate to dive if they see a fish that they can catch. Therefore, adaptation to the environment to survive conditions, and a lot, the memory that these cats have in their DNA with respect to water.
Do they need to be bathed?
We can affirm that kittens only need water to stay hydrated and to promote saliva production. Therefore, unless they are very dirty or the dirt is potentially dangerous for the animal, cats do not need to be bathed.
Long-haired breeds, on the other hand, do require bi-monthly baths to keep the shape and texture of their hair in optimal condition. In these cases, familiarizing them from a young age to the bathroom routine is convenient so that they associate this experience with something positive. Having the first bath done by a professional will help you clear up many doubts.
In general, thanks to grooming, to which they dedicate a third of the hours they are awake, they are able to remove the dirt adhering to their coat. Not surprisingly, his tongue is rough precisely for that purpose and his saliva incorporates a natural detergent capable of making grease disappear. Therefore, bathe him only if it is strictly necessary.
How should I bathe my cat?
You should not bathe your pet if he is too young, as you could dry out his skin and strip him of the pheromones he needs to communicate with his peers. In general, it is recommended to do it from 3 months of age and its frequency will depend on the degree of dirt and the length of your hair.
As it is one more routine to incorporate, you must face it as a new learning in which you must be patient and use positive reinforcement to consolidate the achievements obtained. Take note of the steps you must follow to bathe your kitten for the first time :
- Take a fresh plastic bowl and fill it with a finger of warm water, at about 37-38ºC. Let me look at it and sniff it.
- Protect your arms with a long-sleeved garment and a towel so you don’t hurt your arms if it scratches you.
- This first time you should limit yourself to soaking it, not bathing it completely. Choose a hot day, or at least not cold, and arrange yourself in a room where there are no drafts.
- Once the coat is moistened, pour a nut of cat shampoo into your hand and apply it by giving it a light massage. In the summer months, experts advise opting for antiparasitic shampoos.
- With a pitcher of warm water, remove the soap, making sure that neither soap nor water splashes on your face.
- If it was very dirty, you would repeat the soaping. If you have long hair, it will be time to apply the conditioner. It will make brushing easier by reducing the number of knots and tangles.
- You should use 2 towels. One to remove as much water as your hair has accumulated, and another to complete drying. Dries lightly without scrubbing.
- The last step will be to brush it. If it were a winter day, you should finish with the dryer, always at medium power and at a certain distance to prevent burns.
Dry shampoos, when to use them
There are situations in which you will appreciate having a dry cleaning shampoo for cats. We refer to those cats for whom bathing is a battle or, for example, if 15 days have not elapsed since it was vaccinated. In these cases you should sanitize your pet with detergent powders or dry foams.
All you have to do is apply it, never to the face or genitals, and wait a few minutes for it to work. Afterwards, you will have to brush their hair to remove both the dirt and the remains of the product. In the case of foam, you must first wipe it with a chamois and then brush it.
As you can see, it is not so true that cats hate water, but that they feel a certain respect towards it, in large part, due to the conditioning of their past experiences. Provide him with clean, fresh water daily and enjoy his incomparable company.
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