Can Cats Swim? Don’t Cats Hate Water?

Can Cats Swim?

Cats are famously known for having nine lives. While this is a myth, we can definitely understand where it came from.

Cats can almost do anything fearlessly without causing harm to themselves – from withstanding falls, running faster on narrow and steep paths, climbing and jumping from one high point to another, and so on.

But, above all of these, one question remains, “Can cats swim?”

Can Cats Swim?

It’s not a hidden fact that many cats have a love-hate relationship with water, and even owners of multiple cats can attest to this.

As such, the idea that they may not know how to swim is also logical. However, by setting rational reasons behind, and focusing, instead on the nature of our feline friends, we can better understand that cats can swim instinctively.

Cats, after all, are natural swimmers. So, whether they’ve discovered it already or not, they won’t drown in the water under normal circumstances.

Hence, it doesn’t matter if they’ve been into a swimming pool or a body of water before. When the need arises, they can swim – and they will swim. But, do cats love to swim?

Well, we can’t say that all cats avoid water by all means. Some domestic cats and other cat breeds are not just drawn to running water – may it be from fountains, faucets, or sprinklers – but they also enjoy swimming.  

Hence, it’s more appropriate to say that most cats prefer to be on dry land or at the comfort of their warm fluffy bed or cat box, instead of swimming in cold waters.

But again, if your cat fell on the water accidentally, you don’t have to worry, unless he is swimming against a strong current or swimming under extraordinary conditions.

Cats instinctively know how to swim out of the water, but without the need to do so, most domesticated cats would rather stay on dry land at all times.

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Don’t Cats Hate Water?

Don’t cats loathe water? Well, not really; but, not all cats love water, either. As mentioned earlier, some cats have an instinctive aversion to water. And we can associate that to their experience with water growing up.

Like humans, cats and dogs also respond positively to an enjoyable experience. And that’s why positive reinforcements, like treats, cuddles, and affirmations, work wonders with our furry friends.

As such, when your pet cat had fun and stress-free experience in the water when he was still a kitten, he would most likely develop an affinity to it.

He would associate his time in the water as an enjoyable experience. So, when he grows older, he won’t have reservations to get wet and even take a dip in your kiddie pool at home.

Fortunately, some cat’s aversion to water doesn’t hinder them in meeting their hydration needs. And though cats are not fond of drinking water like dogs, it’s our responsibility as fur parents to give them 24/7 access to clean, cool water.

Most pet cats love the sound and sight of flowing water. So, it helps to provide them with a cat fountain in their room, and other areas of the house where they usually hang out.

If you are uncertain, try purchasing one cat fountain first, and place it beside a normal water container. Chances are your cat will choose to drink from the fountain.

3 Major Reasons Why Your Cat is Afraid of Water

Cats with fear of water are not born as such. Just like us, humans, cats don’t care about water when they were born.

However, in addition to the above reasons, there are circumstances and also natural proclivities that caused some felines to be afraid of water, while others are perfectly fine with it.

They were not exposed to water as a kitten.

Unlike cats in the wild that were exposed to water and water activities when they were young, domestic cat breeds may not have such experience until they were older.

As such, it’s just normal for them to have an aversion to water since it was not present most of their lives. And that’s why it would be very unlikely for them to enjoy a shower at your tub, more so to take a plunge with you in your swimming pool.

Their breed isn’t fond of water.

While exposure is one factor, it doesn’t absolutely influence a cat’s affinity to water. And while some breeds of domesticated cats are not fond of swimming, other breeds do.

One popular example is the Turkish Van Cat, which is also known as the “swimming cat.” One of the reasons why Turkish Van Cats have no qualms about being in the water is due to their water repellent coat that allows them to stay in the water for a long time.

Some cat breeds that are native to regions with hotter climates might also enjoy the cooling effect of water on their body. Hence, they are more likely to enjoy swimming than those cat breeds that originated from colder locations.   

It adds weight to their fur.

When a cat is submerged into the water even for a short time, there’s a high chance that its fur will be waterlogged. And such sudden added weight into their body can cause cats to panic and frantically swim or pan out to a dry surface.

However, as mentioned above, this can also vary from one breed to another. And exposure at an early age to this experience also helps a cat not to be terrified from being completely soaked in the water.

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Top 10 Water-Loving Breeds of Cats

Have you seen pictures of cats online that are swimming with enjoyment together with their fur parent? And have you ever wished to also have a feline companion who could go swimming with you?

If so, then, aside from exposing your cat to water at an early age, it also helps to choose a breed that naturally loves water.

However, if you have a fish tank at home, you might want to think this over or you can place added protection on your aquatic pets.

Aside from Turkish Van Cats, the nine other water-loving cat breeds worth noting are the Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cats, Abyssinian, Manx, Japanese Bobtails, American Bobtail, Savannah, Turkish Angora, and Bengal cats.

Should You Teach Your Cat to Swim?

As mentioned earlier, not all cats love to swim, but when the need arises, they can swim instinctively even if they had never swum their entire lives.

With this, you may not need to teach your cat how to swim if you are just concerned about the uncertainties.

However, if you have an adult cat and you just want to get the chance to swim with him. You can try by bringing him near a pool. If he likes the water, he would most probably touch it and eventually take a plunge.

But, if he doesn’t, don’t force him to do so because it would just traumatize him, and he may even avoid you next time.

So, just respect his decision and find other activities that you can do with him, instead. How about going for a walk outdoors or driving around your neighborhood?

How to Train Your Cat to Love Water?

The best way to train your cat to love water is to do so while they are young.

Kittens that grow up with positive experiences with water tend to develop a closer affinity to it than adult cats that were rarely exposed to it when they were younger. Or even worse, they’d have a better relationship with water than those who had negative or traumatic experiences when they were still kittens.

As the popular adage says, “Start them young.” And this isn’t only applicable to humans, but also our pet cats and even dogs.

However, when you are exposing your kitten to water, make sure to observe the following guidelines to avoid or reduce negative reactions from them:

  • Keep the temperature of the water warm.
  • Don’t force him to go in deep water, especially if there are no exit points or a ramp.
  • Minimize the splashing of water and other unnecessary noise.

By following these easy steps, you can make your kitten’s exposure to water less frightening, and more fun and welcoming.

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Cat Swimming Safety Tips

Whether you are still training your cat to swim or you are already enjoying regular swimming sessions with him, it is always a must to observe the following safety precautions.

We can never be complacent when it comes to our cat’s safety, even if we know that they are natural swimmers.

  • Always give your cat an exit point. Sometimes even experienced cats may be startled and it may cause them to panic while in the water. As such, your pool or tub must have a ledge or ramp for them to climb out of the water whenever needed.
  • Check your pool’s chemicals regularly. As a pool owner, it’s already given that you should regularly check the chemicals of your pool to make sure that they are well-balanced. This is even more important when your cats are also using it with your family, as too much chlorine and other chemicals can have negative impacts on their overall health.
  • Avoid ear infections by always drying your cat’s ears. While most cats will instantly remove water out of their ears instinctively, it doesn’t hurt to be extra careful by doing our part as their cat parent. As such, whenever they swim or even take a bath, you should always dry their ears thoroughly. Cats have deep ear canals, so they can easily get ear infections when water gets inside them.

Big Cats Also Love Water

Big cats like tigers are famous for their swimming abilities. And this skill is pretty much useful for them not just for hunting, but also in keeping their body temperature well-regulated as it can get too hot in the jungle.

Other big cats with amazing swimming prowess are the jaguars, lions, panthers, and even the medium-sized wild cat native to South and Southeast Asia called the “fishing cat.”

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Are cats natural swimmers?

Although not all felines dislike being in water, certain breeds love swimming more than others. In fact, some cats have the build that makes them great natural swimmers once they get in! Their robust bodies are suitable for holding themselves in water and they've even been known to scoop water with their paws.

How good of swimmers are cats?

They're incredibly strong swimmers, with powerful webbed feet, and have been known to hunt in long stretches of water up to 9 miles long. Other big cats swim, too, such as jaguars, lions, and panthers routinely hunt and relax in and around the water's edge.

Can you train a cat to like water?

Here are tips for teaching your cat to love (or at least tolerate) water: 1. Put kitty in an empty bathtub or sink and play with his favorite toy there. Talk softly to him and make the time in the tub or sink fun.

Why do cats do not like water?

More likely, however, cats don't like getting wet because of what water does to their fur. Cats are fastidious animals that spend a great deal of their day grooming themselves. ... Wet fur is also heavier than dry and thus makes a cat less nimble and easier for predators to catch.

  • June 29, 2021
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.