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Why Do Cats Love the Bathtub?

I Couldn't Figure Out Why My Cat Loves Sitting in the Bathtub, So I Asked a Vet

White cat standing in bath tub.

As the proud mom to five cats, I am very aware of how different their personalities can be. While I have one cat who will only drink out of a certain water dish (picky, indeed, huh?!), my other kitty Little Mister has always had an affinity for bathtubs that I've never been able to explain. Whenever I'm looking for Little Mister, my first stop is always the bathroom, and nine times out of 10, he's lounging in the tub.

Oddly enough, Little Mister really doesn't like water. Although you might come across dozens of funny TikTok videos featuring cats taking baths with their owners, Little Mister sadly isn't that brave. Instead, he likes to stretch out in the tub and bask in all of his glory while chirping at me until I pet him.

Sounds pretty strange, right? Determined to discover the real meaning behind my feline's love of the tub, I asked Dr. Zay Satchu, Bond Vet's cofounder and chief veterinary officer, who said it's really not all that uncommon! Scroll ahead to learn why some kitties just love to sit in the tub.

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My Cat Hates Water, but Loves the Bathtub . . . Why Is That?

"While most cats don't like being wet, many do enjoy exploring or playing with water on their own terms — especially dripping water from a faucet," Dr. Satchu told POPSUGAR. "Perhaps to your cat, being adventurous and looking into a bathtub as a play area is a very different (and more fun!) water experience than being caught in the rain or sudsed up for a bath."

Additionally, Dr. Satchu said it actually might be a texture preference, as kitties might enjoy the cool, slippery surface. "If your cat is hanging out and relaxing in the tub while it's empty, they may just enjoy lying on the smooth surface and watching people go by from behind the edge of the tub, treating it as a fun hiding spot or cozy sleeping nook," she said.

Why Does My Cat Chirp at Me When He's in the Bathtub?

There's nothing I love more than hearing all the funny little sounds my cats make. And though Little Mister isn't usually vocal, he won't stop "talking" while lounging in his favorite spot. "While most people are familiar with common cat noises such as meowing and hissing, cats can actually make many different sounds for communication," Dr. Satchu explained.

She noted that sometimes felines make noises to let their owners know they're in a good mood. "A chirp, chirrup, or trill is a happy noise used for greetings to acknowledge you when you speak to them or for expressing excitement (if they're chirping at a toy or at a bird outside the window, for example)," Dr. Satchu said. "It's also the noise mother cats use to get their kittens to follow them, so a chirp could be your cat's way of asking for attention or trying to show you something. So if your cat is chirping in the bathtub, they are likely enjoying their time in the tub!"

Is Letting My Cat Play in the Bathtub OK?

"If your cat enjoys swimming or playing in the tub, by all means, let them do so for physical and mental stimulation. Just be sure to supervise them, and don't leave your cat unattended in the water," Dr. Satchu advised. "Be sure the tub is free of chemicals (like cleaning products). Try filling the tub to a height where your cat can comfortably stand with their head above the water."

Of course, if you notice a sudden change in your kitty's behavior, it's best to ask your veterinarian for advice. "If you are worried about your cat suddenly spending more time sleeping in an empty tub, you are right that any behavior change is potentially a cause for concern," she said. "Cats hide pain and illness very well, so spending more time in a hiding place may be your kitty's way of isolating themselves. But take this in context with their overall behavior. Is your kitty still eating well, playing, and otherwise their normal selves, or do they seem a bit 'off'? When in doubt, it never hurts to be on the safe side and call your vet with any behavior change."

Is Hanging Out in the Bathtub a Normal Cat Behavior?

While it's not exactly normal for cats to enjoy hanging out in the tub, or near water at all, it's usually just a form of harmless fun. "It is unusual for cats to like being in the bath or being wet in general," she said. "We might not know exactly why or what is going through a cat's mind when they get wet. However, it's likely a cat feels a loss of control in a slippery tub. The ancestors of house cats evolved in arid climates and thus didn't spend time swimming. Soaking-wet fur might make a cat feel weighted down, make it difficult to groom themselves, or make it harder to regulate their body temperature."

And although getting a handle on your cat's lineage might be challenging, there are some breeds of domestic cats that tend to like swimming! "These breeds includes Maine Coons, Abyssinians, and Bengals," she shared. "Interestingly, there's also a breed called the Turkish Van, which has a waterproof coat and loves to swim. However, individuals within a breed may vary in terms of their preferences, so don't push your cat to swim or play with water if they're not interested."

Image Source: Getty / Melissa Ross
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