cat looking out over a swimming pool

Can Cats Swim? Everything You Need To Know

Most cats seem to hate water.

Aside from bath time (which is often despised by cats), many people have never seen a cat in or around water.

This has led many people to assume that cats are unable to swim. However, this is a misconception as cats can swim.

All cats are innately able to swim and some actually enjoy swimming.

That doesn’t necessarily mean your cat wants to spend time in water though, let’s take a closer look.

Why Do Cats Hate Water?

Just because cats are able to swim does not mean they are good at it or want to do it. Their ability to swim is for survival so if a cat needs to swim to safety, they are able to.

If your cat is not experienced in water they probably won’t want to swim and they may not even know that they can swim.

Here are three reasons your cat may not like water:

1. No Experience

If they have no experience of water, they won’t feel comfortable or confident around water.

Suddenly being plunged into water is extremely scary and overwhelming so you should never do this.

2. Your cats breed doesn’t naturally like water.

There are breeds that do enjoy water and breeds that don’t, because of this some cats may be better equipped and more confident when it comes to being around water.

3. Their fur becomes waterlogged.

Another reason your cat may hate water is that their fur becomes waterlogged when in water.

This will cause them to feel a sudden weight pulling them down. This, combined with their inexperience in water, is the reason many cats panic and try to escape as quickly as possible.

If we take a look at cats in the wild it could help us to understand our domestic cats.

Not all wild cats enjoy water.

Cats from warmer climates such as tigers are generally good at swimming as they tend to use water as a way of cooling down.

On the other hand, cats from colder climates such as lynx tend to avoid water as it affects their ability to keep warm.

Helping Your Cat Gain Confidence Around Water

The chances are you haven’t spent time with your cat around any form of water because of the belief that all cats hate getting wet.

It could be that the only time your cat is around water is during bath time, which probably increases their dislike for it.

Generally, if cats have positive experiences in and around water when they are young they will grow up to enjoy water (or at least tolerate it). There are a few key rules to follow when helping your cat get used to water;

  • Never force your cat into water
  • Don’t splash and shout when around water
  • Always make sure your cat has an easy way out of the water (e.g. an exit ramp)

You could put some water into a shallow tray and leave it out for your cat to investigate. It shouldn’t be deep, just a centimetre or so to give your cat a chance to see and feel water without it being intimidating or dangerous.

For safety, make sure you always keep an eye on your cat when they are playing with water.

Your cat needs to build up their confidence around water so let them take it slow and don’t put any pressure or stress on them.

If your cat doesn’t like water and has no interest in the water you have placed down, do not force them.

If over time your cat develops a love for water and spends a lot of time near it and maybe even joins you for rides on boats then it is worth investing in a cat life jacket just to ensure that the worst doesn’t happen.

Cat Breeds That Like Water

Although every cat is an individual, there are breeds that are more inclined to enjoy being around water than others.

Here are some good examples of cat breeds that generally like water:

1. Van Cats

This is a local breed of cat from Turkey. Van Cats live around Lake Van so are very used to water and are known for their love of swimming.

2. Maine Coon

These cats enjoy water and their dense undercoat helps to stop water from penetrating down to their skin.

3. Bengal Cats

These shorthaired cats often enjoy being around water. It’s believed that the Bengal Cat’s confident and daring temperament plays a role in their love for water.

Do Cats Like Swimming?

All cats can swim, some enjoy it while others will not. It all depends on the individual cat, their breed, the situation and their previous experiences.

While swimming only really occurs in warmer climates as a way of cooling down, you may see your cat playing in water.

This is a good sign they are confident, comfortable or at least curious about water. Their games may include:

  • Pawing water dripping from the tap
  • Scooping water from their water bowl with their paw
  • Hunting objects in water
  • Splashing paws in water
  • Dropping toys into water
  • Running through rain or water sprinklers

Cat Swimming Conclusion

If a cat grows up around water they will generally be more tolerant of it, they might use water as a way to cool off on warmer days or as a source of entertainment.

All cats are able to swim if the situation calls for it but they tend to be happiest with their paws firmly on dry ground.

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