Do Ragdoll Cats Like Water? (It’s A Love-Hate Relationship)

A common believe is that cats don’t like water – but does this apply to ragdolls?

If you own a ragdoll, or are planning on getting a ragdoll, it’s an important question to know the answer to.

Ragdoll cats love running water, but hate being immersed in water. Ragdolls will often lick running water from taps and hoses, or paw at it out of curiosity due to their inquisitive nature. However, most ragdolls, like all cat breeds, generally don’t like water when it comes to bathing or swimming.

Almost all ragdoll owners could tell you stories of their cuddly companion sneaking their way into the bathroom to try and paw at the shower water, or jumping up onto the kitchen bench when you’re filling up the sink to try and sneak a taste of the tap water.

But while ragdolls like water in the sense it’s fun for them to play with it, there are certainly scenarios where ragdolls – like most other cats – do not like water, as I’ll explain below.

Are ragdoll cats afraid of water?

Ragdoll cats are not afraid of water, and actually love playing with it. Ragdoll owners will often find them lingering near the shower it’s running, or pawing at the stream of water when filling up the kitchen sink. However, you’ll have difficulty getting ragdolls into a body of water like a bath or pool.

Out of all the cat breeds in the world, ragdolls are arguably the least afraid of water; but there some distinctions that need to be made in regards to that statement.

Your ragdoll cat will be very happy playing with water; however, don’t confuse this with playing in water as they are two very different things.

Letting them play with running water out of a tap? Perfect. Letting them paw at pooled water on the bathroom floor? No problem. Dunking your ragdoll cat into the pool? Definitely not appropriate.

While your ragdoll cat won’t be afraid of playing with running water, it’s likely they’ll become very afraid if you immerse them in water.

Do ragdoll cats like baths?

No, ragdoll cats do not like baths. Because ragdolls clean their own fur using their tongue, they do not need to be washed and therefore aren’t accustomed to regular bathing. For this reason, if you try to bath a ragdoll, chances are they will not like it.

Brushing ragdoll cats can be a tricky enough task, let alone trying to bath them.

Unlike dogs, cats aren’t as accustomed to swimming in water, or being washed in water, and it can be quite distressing experience for most breeds, including ragdolls.

Of course, there are exceptions – I’ve seen a few videos of cats enjoying being bathed or going for a swim – but they are generally in the minority.

As a general rule, ragdoll cats do not like baths.

If you do need to bath your ragdoll, we’ve written a comprehensive guide on how you can do it with the least amount of fuss.

Do ragdoll cats need baths?

Ragdoll cats self-clean, meaning they rarely, if ever, need baths. If you are particularly anal-retentive about cleanliness, you might like to bath your ragdoll once every few months. However, this is not a requirement as ragdolls keep themselves perfectly clean on their own.

We’ve had our ragdoll cat for more than five years and have not bathed her once during that time – we’ve had her regularly groomed, though, of course – and there has been no issue with smells or a dirty coat.

Ragdolls spend much of their day sleeping and personally grooming themselves with their tongue, which keeps their fur really, really clean.

Of course, they need to be regularly brushed as they do shed hair, but rarely – if ever – will you need to bath a ragdoll cat.

The only time your ragdoll may require a bath is if you’ve let them roam outside (which they love doing) and they’ve rolled in dirt or mud, causing their coat to get excessively dirty.

Do ragdoll cats swim?

Ragdoll cats can swim for survival, but that does not mean you should put them in water to test their swimming ability. Ragdolls are dry-land animals that self-clean, meaning they rarely, if ever, need to swim. Putting a ragdoll cat in water can be a traumatic experience for them and should be avoided, where possible.

Like all animals, ragdolls can swim if their lives depend on it – but does that mean they like swimming? In most cases, the answer is no.

Ragdolls are predominantly inside cats, otherwise known as ‘house cats’, and much prefer the comfort of the dry living room floor or warm bedroom carpet to a wet, cold swimming pool.

I definitely do not recommend trying to get your ragdoll to swim, even just to find out if they can do it or not.

It will likely be a horrible and unnerving experience for your cat and, in all honesty, quite cruel.

Final message

The take home message is: ragdolls love playing with water, but they do not like playing in water.

If you wish to let your ragdoll paw at running water from a tap or shower, go ahead as it they’ll likely find it fun, due to their inquisitive and playful nature.

However, don’t dunk your ragdoll cat in water just to see if they can swim or not, as they probably won’t like it one bit.

The only time you absolutely need to bath your ragdoll cat is if they have been outside and got themselves extremely dirty by rolling in dirt or mud – otherwise regular grooming, coupled with them self-cleaning their fur coat, will do the job just fine.