Can cats Swim?

Posted by | Jul 24, 2016 |

Cats do swim

Author Amira

Hi there!

I’m Amira, founder and editor at Cattention.

This website is dedicated to share useful but entertaining information and help You understand Your cat’s actions, behavior and needs.

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We have all seen cats being quite curious about water; dipping an exploring paw inside the bathtub filled with water or just smelling the running faucet are not uncommon situations, we, cat owners, can experience day by day.

But what happens if a cat accidentally falls into the water? Usually, they will jump out immediately with a weird expression on their faces. But why is that?

Can’t cats swim? Or do cats hate water? Or are they afraid of it? Clear all your doubts by getting the answers to all these questions in this article.

Can cats Swim? – The answer

The simple answer is yes; cats can swim naturally.

Cats do not even necessarily need training. Even if they have never done it before, they instinctively kick their legs and stay afloat without having any prior experience or practice.

As most mammals, including big cats like tigers and lions, are capable of swimming instinctively in their natural environment, so can most domestic cats, and they do it surprisingly well.

It is just that they typically do not really want to swim. Most cats don’t like being in the water at the first place and will do everything to avoid being wet.

Are cats afraid of water? – Or else why do cats hate water?

Since cats clean and groom themselves a couple of times each day, it would make perfect sense that they would enjoy having a bath as well. So why is that cats are commonly famous for being one of the few creatures that hate being in water?

There are several reasons why most cats prefer to keep their furry coats dry and make a big fuss when even a paw gets wet:

  • Scientists believe that cat’s dislike of water comes from the early domestication. A long time ago, when we invited cats to accompany us, we have shielded them away from water.
  • Although wild cats like tigers swim to cool off themselves and get some food, most domestic cats don’t encounter water too often, therefore they are not used to it. Cats are creatures of habit and do not really like changes. So a cat that has never experienced water before will most likely hate being in the water.
  • Some cats shun water because they associate it with a bad, negative experience like a heavy rainstorm, forced bath or being sprayed as punishment.
  • Last but not least, when a cat’s fur gets waterlogged, it becomes matted which weighs down the cat causing extremely uncomfortable feeling for a cat.

After all, it is no surprise that cats usually tend to avoid water and will only swim when they really have to, as it represents something unpleasant and out of ordinary for them.

Although they hate it, they do not fear it, and will definitely jump in the water if they feel threatened by a predator.

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cat bathing

Cats that love water

As discussed, cats generally hate water and will make sure to take the shortest way out if they happen to fall in. However, this goes for most cats; it is not entirely true.

The ancient Egyptians even used cats to catch fish.

Let’s not forget about large cats either. Wildcats are fond of swimming, especially those living in the hot climate. They regularly swim to cool down and hunt for food. One great example is the Asian fishing cat that even has partially webbed paws that help it swim faster and enable it to catch prey easier.

Just as their wild species, some domestic cats show a great interest in getting into the water as well. The following cat breeds are more prone to enjoying water than the others, so if you are looking for a feline friend to accompany you in your water activities then get one of the following:

  • Turkish Van – also known as swimming cat
  • Turkish Angora
  • American Bobtail
  • Bengal
  • Maine Coon

Important note: Each cat has a unique personality, so choosing a cat from this list only means that the chance of having a cat that loves water increases.

Training – Getting your cat to adjust to water

As discussed before, cats instinctively know how to swim. Therefore, no training is necessary in this regard.

However, most cats hate water, and if they happen to fall into it, they might panic and drown. It has to be taught to a cat not be scared and become familiar with water.

Cats are highly adaptive and can do pretty much anything if they are introduced and taught to things properly – be it putting them in carriers, walking on a leash or even swimming. If you wish to familiarize your cat with water, please follow the next useful tips:

  • Acclimate her early – get your cat used to water as early as possible. Kittens are more adaptive and learn easier and faster than older cats.
  • Introduce her slowly – take little steps and make the process gradual. Never throw your pet cat into a pool or pond. Instead, it is better if you let your cat approaches water on her own pace and time.
  • Make sure she is ready – release her little body in the water only if you are 100% sure that she can make her way out. Stay by her side at all time and do not leave her unattended near the pool or bathtub.
  • Use positive reinforcement – talk to your cat in a gentle, soothing voice and give her treats or other rewards for her great behavior.

If you keep these things in mind when familiarizing a cat with water, you will most likely to end up with a happy water companion. Though, sometimes all the efforts we take are still not enough and teaching your cat to familiarize with swimming may not be something you can do.

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cats' toes
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Bottom line

Cats are like people when it comes to preferences. Some cats like certain types of food while others don’t. Some cats like to be held while others would growl at you even if you just think about it. Swimming is not an exception from this. Your cat may enjoy getting into the water, or she may prefer to avoid it at all cost.

However, that is true for almost all of them that they tend to be at least curious about water and will dip a paw into a bathtub full of water or play with the running faucet. We all can agree, though, that sticking one foot in the water or swimming in it is an entirely different story.

And in fact, cats can swim naturally and surprisingly well. It is just that they typically do not really want to swim as most of them hate water. After all, whether they hate it or not, cats are indeed very fascinated by water.