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Can and Should Cats Swim? (Learn Here)

If you live near a pool and have a cat or are just curious about cats and water, you may have wondered if they can actually swim or not…

Do cats swim?

Cats can swim. Even though their origins are from deserts they can survive in water. However, not all cats like to swim. For some, it is more for survival than enjoyment.

So, now you know. But, do most cats hate water? Can big cats swim as well? Are certain cat breeds more inclined to swim than others? Keep reading for these answers and much more.

Do cats hate water?

A cat staring at some flowing water.

A cat staring at some flowing water.

Some cats do hate water. This may be because the have had bad experiences in their past, only been introduced to it at a later age, or just prefer not to get their fur wet.

Bad experiences.

Bad experiences can include a near death experience when they were young, being abused and lack trust. Or from being bathed. If its teh later, being bathed, often cats hate their fur getting wet and fuzy which can lead to this.

Exposed to water at a later age

If they have not had experience of water, apart from their water bowl, then they may be freaked out by a pool, for example. This is normal if you think about it logically. Even for us humans.

Hate their fur getting wet

Cats are known for grooming themselves. So, if they are forced to get their fur wet it may annoy them. If, for example, they are forced to have a bath. They may resent it because hey feel its not needed.

Do Big Cats Swim?

Big cats do swim. If fact, animals such as tigers are well known for this. They have been known to travel several miles down a river to hunt their prey. This is possible because of their skill and webbed paws that cup the water well.

However, its not just tigers. Jaguars, panthers or even the king of jungle, lions, are known for this as well.

Do certain cat breeds enjoy swimming?

There are some cat breeds that seem to graviotate to water quite well. Such as:

  • Maine Coons
  • Bengal
  • Turkish Van
  • Manx

There are various theories as to why some cat breeds like or do not like water. But, one thing is universal, they hate the feeling of their fur coat getting wet in general. And, this may be because it presents a temporary disadvantage by weighing them down.

What safety procedures are required for cat swimming?

If you are keen on introducing your cat to the water, or allowing them access. Its best to keep them supervised at all times. This could be as simple as covering the pool when you are not around.

Other precautions include blocking access to the pool completely. Such as locking the door to an indoor pool. Even when they do get access its worth having a platform available so they can climb out easily if they panic and want to get out.

Are Domestic cats prepared for water?

Domestic cats are not prepared for water. Their wild ancestors were known to live in dry areas with little need to swim apart from light contact to catch fish.

Over thousands of years they have become less connected to the water due to the rise of indoor cats. Making any contact with water even more scary.

Can cats instinctively swim or need to learn?

Cats can swim instinctively. Like a human baby, if they are submerged in water, they will naturally kick and paddle the water. Cats are not strong swimmers though. But, they can use their basic skills to survive it they had to.

This is why you are unlikely to see a domestic cat jumping into a river or pool for fun. They may have the natural instinct to swim. But, they are not great at it, generally speaking. And, they typically do not enjoy getting wet.

What water games can you play with your cat?

You can play some simple cat water games such as placing a shallow tray of water on thefloor, ideally outside on a warm day. And, placing some cat toys either in the tray or near by.

The idea is to get your cat used to the water to build some familiarity with it. It does not have to be much more than this to start with.

Can you teach your cat to swim?

You can expose your cat to the water gradually to reduce the fear of water. But, its likely that your cat can already swim, even if it is just a basic survival level.

The challenge is getting your cat to want to get into the water. If you start early, as a kitten, it will make it easier. But, an adult or senior cat is unlikely to want to adjust.

Do cats drown in swimming pools?

A cat can drown in a swimming pool, or even a bath. This is because they can find the edges slippery and unable to pull themselves out. Therefore, its important to have safety measures around the pool to avoid this.

This can include a safety net or covering around teh pool. Or even teaching your cat where the stairs are to exit the pool. Either way it will need your supervision and precautions to avoid a potential accident.

Are Cats safe around pools?

For short periods of time pools are safe for cats. But, for long periods they are not. This can be because exposure to the pool chemicals for long periods of time is not good for them.

Also, if they decide to drink this water this can make matters even worse for them.

Can cats breathe underwater?

No. Cats cannot breathe underwater. This is because, like all mammals, they cannot breath in water. Only animals with gills, like fish, can truly breathe under water.

Even dolphins that spend their lives in water cannot breathe in it. They need access to the surface to breathe even. Although, they can hold their breathe underwater for long periods.

Lindsey Browlingdon