Can Cats Swim?

You being a cat owner, might have the same question that most owners have, and that is, can cats swim?

All cats are natural swimmers, but usually, they avoid getting wet and choose not to swim. They are uncomfortable in wet fur, and it takes a long time to dry. However, you can teach cats to swim at an early age by gently introducing them to water. 

The fact is that they have the potential to enjoy the water and also swim if they are given a chance to have fun in the water when they are young.

Cat breeds like Bengal cats, Maine Coon Cats, and Turkish Vans love water. If you do not know if your cat likes to swim, continue reading as we have covered everything that will help you get an answer for the same and lots more.

How do cats know how to swim?

Many animals, including cats, have an instinct to behave in the water, particularly when they are young.

When human babies are put in water, they instinctively hold their breath; their heart rate increases, and the circulation to hands and feet decreases so that they don’t lose heat.

Everyone on land has descended from the ancestors living in the sea.

Why Do Cats Hate Water if They Can Swim?

Yes, many cats indeed hate water even if they know how to swim. Let us know some of the reasons for this.

Cat with wet fur

Never exposed to water: Usually, cats are less tolerant to change and experience when compared to dogs. If a cat has not been exposed to water when young, it would not like the feeling of having drenched in it.

A cat that has been exposed to water when young may like swimming.

The breed doesn’t enjoy water: Cats are meticulous in nature. They spend too much time grooming themselves and do not like anything that smells other than normal on their fur. When you bathe your cat, they consider it to be more work for them.

Wet fur is heavy: Cats do not like wet fur as they feel uncomfortable, and it takes a long time to dry. Wet fur is heavier and thus makes them less agile and easier to fall prey to.

What are water loving breeds of Cats?

We can’t say that these cats like to swim, but the physical characteristics make them well suited for water.

All cats have the potential of enjoying the water, but the below mentioned breeds are most thrilled about it.

Bengal cats – The playful and confident Bengal cat is a shorthaired breed and is popular for its love for the water.

Bengal cats have descended from Asian leopard cats that often hunt in trees and not water.

Van cats – Van cats are the original Turkish swimming cats. They swim in Lake Van to cool off in the hot Turkish summer.  They usually swim out to meet the fishing boats in the hope of some food.

Turkish vans – Many Turkish van owners have said that their cat likes water. This may be possible because they get lots of chances to play in the water and their physical attributes.

They have a dense and water repellent coat that keeps them warm in the water. Turkish Van cats also have strong hind legs that are suitable for swimming.

Maine coon cats – Maine coons also have a dense undercoat just like the Turkish Van that makes it difficult for the water to penetrate into their skin. Also, they like water, and this can be attributed to since they are ships’ cats.

Some cats are really pro in the swimming game, have a look below –

How to Expose Cat to Water & Teach Swimming?

The easiest and the best way to get your cat get used to water is to start young. This is because, when they are kittens, they don’t fear since they don’t understand.

Kittens that grow up into adults exposed to water actually enjoy it. Follow the below-mentioned guidelines when you are exposing your cat to water:

  • Make sure the water is warm
  • Do not force the cat to go into deep water
  • Keep splashing and noise minimal

By following the guidelines as mentioned above, exposing your cat to water is easier. When you are decided to expose your cat to water, follow the below-mentioned steps that will make it simpler.

Safely get into the water with your cat 

This could be tricky because most cats will fight when they see you taking them into the water. Make sure you hold the cat in your arms comfortably and keep them calm. Also, walk backwards so that the kitty cannot see you entering the water.

Calm the cat when you are in the water 

This is often based on how much your cat trusts you. When you are in the water, hold the cat firmly and grasp the rear feet in one hand. This will ensure they do not turn around and scratch you and try to get out of water.

Try to calm your pet and stay in one position till the cat is comfortable.

What should you do if your cat tries to get out of water?

When you think your cat is comfortable, loosen the hold and start the swimming lessons. This is a risk because the cat may try to climb up on you. If this happens, make sure you do not pull the cat away from you otherwise, you may have some scratches.

In this situation, kneel down under water while holding the cat out of the water. Come back up and comfort the cat just like in the previous step.

Let the cat get comfortable with the water

Slowly lower the cat inside the water and make sure to keep a firm grip so that the cat does not go under water. Your cat may be frightened but comfort her to trust you.

Start letting her swim

Once you feel the cat is comfortable, loosen your hold and let the cat do what her/his instincts say. The cat will start paddling and make sure to support her/him above the water and hold him/her loosely.

Teach the cat how to turn while swimming

After the cat starts to move, start guiding the cat on how to turn. Your cat’s instinct will help him/her figure out how to use his/her paws.

Allow the cat to swim but not get away

Let your cat swim but make sure he/she does not exit the pool so that you can help build her swimming skills. By now, he/she will be relaxed and start enjoying the water.

Your cat may want to leave the pool but hold her lightly so that she can swim properly but not get out of the water.

Let the cat go 

When you are certain that your cat can swim properly, let go. Appreciate her/him and point towards the edge so that she/he can let go.

Probably your cat would not want to get into the water by herself, so take her into the water and after a few times, you will notice that the water is not bothering her anymore.

Can cats hold their breath underwater?

Cats are not aware of this, but a reflex known as a mammalian diving reflex prevents them from drawing when submerged in the water.

They cannot hold their breath for a particular time because it is only a survival reflex to help them get back to the surface.

Can cats drown in the toilet?

Tiny cats may fall and drown in the toilet bowl having an open lid. Also, toilet bowl cleaners might leave a harmful residue, particularly those that are renewed with every flush.

Swimming Safety for Cats

As your cat is not used to being in the water, there are a few safety risks. They instinctively know how to swim, but you need to monitor their safety continuously. Here are some basic rules:

  • Let your cat know the exit point. Your cat will struggle to escape water when you put them into it. Thus, make sure to keep a ledge so that they can climb out of the water. For your cat’s first swim, you can even consider bathtubs and sinks.
  • Make sure to check your pool’s water regularly to ensure it is chemically balanced, particularly when you are going to let your cat swim. Excessive chlorine and other chemicals may have harmful effects on the cat’s health.
  • After a swim, make sure to dry their ears properly because they have deep ear canals and so if the water gets inside them, it may cause infections. Most cats will not let water enter their ears, but always make sure to thoroughly dry them to be on the safe side.

We hope to have helped you answer all the questions you had on whether you cat can swim. Instinctively, cats can swim but most cats are not very fond of water.

We have mentioned a step by step guide that will help you get them into the pool and be comfortable with water.