One of the most important factors to realize concerning cats is how deeply and indelibly connected they are to their genetic and historical past. As so many cat behaviorists tell us, cats have one foot in domesticity and three in the wild and this explains much of their otherwise mysterious behavior. The relationship between cats and water is among these mysteries.
Which is not to say that cats can’t and don’t become deeply embedded into our hearts and homes or that they do not come to deeply bond with us. They do, as everyone reading this knows. But we should never underestimate the extent to which ancient instincts reign within them and determine so many of their behaviors, their preferences, needs and responses.
The hunting instinct is ineradicable in cats and even kittens display the behavior. Their want of private and enclosed places to rest, their appreciation of high vantage points where they can lounge and survey, their fear of entrapment and urge to scent mark and their (often) deep contentment with a solitary existence can all be traced back to their origins in the middle eastern desert areas. So too, their relation to water – with some caveats.
Throughout our website you will encounter the statement that cats are hard-wired to crave moving water. (Which in fact is how and why Thirstycats and our cat water fountains came into being). In the wild, stagnant, still, water breeds bacteria which can be deadly. Fresh flowing water is safe and it is in cats’ genes to understand and seek this. Being desert descendants also explains why cats don’t relate much to taking a dip. The desert is a pretty dry place and water scarce so immersion in wetness is simply not a part of cats’ past. But here’s the caveat. Some cats enjoy water. Here is a link to an article on nine breed of cats who do.