Have you ever spotted a kitty cat going for a nice little dip? Nope? We didn’t think so. It’s a very popular trope that cats absolutely detest water and therefore most people assume cats can’t swim. However, we all know what’s wrong with making assumptions… We’ll start off by revealing the answer, following on with whether it’s safe for cats to swim, and how you can help them become accustomed to water.
Can household cats swim?
Let’s not beat around the bush, or should we say paddle around the pool… Cats can in fact swim, and have the natural instinct in order to do so. Therefore, if they accidentally fall into some water, fear not that they’ll just sink to the bottom. They’ll most likely float and do a speedy kitty paddle to the nearest exit.
Why do cats hate water?
Cats aren’t born with a fear or hatred towards water. Rather it’s simply that they choose not to go near it. To understand why they make this choice, we’d need to be able to get inside their minds. But as much as we wish we could, we can’t. Therefore, all we can do is make some informed guesses. Some suggest that they choose to avoid water due to their evolution from dry climates, as they had little access or exposure to water and it’s therefore a relative unknown. Others suggest it’s due to wet fur slowing them down and making them more vulnerable to threats. It can also be caused by negative associations from a young age, for example a traumatic wash. Knowing cats, it’s probably as simple as the fact they just don’t want to.
Do all cats hate water?
It's important to note here that whilst the majority of household cats do avoid water, there are a fair few breeds or individual kitties that are known to enjoy a swim. Breeds that enjoy swimming include the likes of Maine Coons, Turkish Angor, Turkish Vans and Bengals. So if you’re looking for a furry Phelps, you know where to look.
Teaching a cat to swim
If you are the lucky hooman to one of those breeds, or have an inkling your cat likes swimming, you may want to start some swimming lessons. Definitely DO NOT just push them in the water and hope for the best. You need to build up a positive association by very gradually introducing them to water, and giving them time to adjust. Ideally from a young age. Here’s our 5 step cat swimming lesson:
- Cat meet water, water meet cat. Pop yourself into the bath or a kiddie pool and entice your cat with some tasty cat treats to come and investigate the water.
- If they appear interested in the water, whilst holding them, gradually let a paw or the tip of their tail come into contact with the water. If this doesn’t deter them, you can slowly let their belly into the water too.
- Now it’s time to up the gear. Slowly lower them into the water, ensuring it’s shallow enough for them to sit down. You’ll likely see their little paws start paddling well before they touch the water.
- Start off by holding them in the water, then ease your hands away so they’re going solo! Ensuring your right by ready to scoop them out, or provide a very easy exit.
Just check out these kitties strutting their stuff…
Even if your cat doesn’t like swimming, it’s a valuable lesson to get them used to water from an early age just in case they do accidentally fall in at some point.
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Is it safe to swim?
If you’ve uncovered that your kitty does enjoy a leisurely swim, then the swimming itself is perfectly okay for them as long as they’re supervised. The thing that will affect their safety is what kind of water they’re swimming in. If the water has been treated and contains chemicals like chlorine, then this can damage their coat and sensitive skin and should be avoided. Equally it could make them sick if your cat drinks water that contains chemicals.
So to conclude, cats naturally know how to swim, which is no surprise as we all know cats have no limits. Whether they'll actually go near the water to give is another story though, but regardless it's important to get your kitty used to water for safety and to prevent stress.
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