Cats and water seem like an odd combination… a possibly dangerous one!
Most cats hate taking baths much less swimming.
Still, unknown to most, our feline friends can take a plunge and enjoy it!
Cat videos have stolen our hearts on the internet for the longest time.
On some of the videos, we have seen some kitties swimming. Many have come to worry if this is safe or even possible.
Read on to understand them better, to see if it is in them to swim and some other interesting tips about cats and water.
The History of Cats and Water
Most people assume that domesticated cats originated from tigers and lions.
They do belong to the same family.
Contrary to popular belief, household cats descended from the Near Eastern wildcat.
This wildcat currently roams the deserts of Middle Eastern countries like Israeli and Saudi Arabia.
This area is called the Fertile Crescent. Since these places are deserts, the felines had little contact with water bodies.
No wonder it didn’t develop much of an interest in water.
Why do cats hate water?
Swimming or being around any other form of water bodies means that the cat will undeniably get wet.
These felines do not like to get wet.
Which leads us to a second question; why do cats hate getting wet?
There are two main and simple reasons:
Since cats have thick fur that holds water for a long time, they tend to avoid getting wet at all costs.
Their coats take longer to dry out completely.
Their bodies remain cold for an extended period once they get wet. They avoid this by avoiding getting wet in the first place.
There is no huge need for cats to get into the water. Hygiene in cats is never an issue.
They learn to clean themselves using their tongues from a very young age.
They can do without baths and still be clean. Therefore, exposure to water is a big shock to them.
Do some cats naturally like water?
There are some breeds of cats that do enjoy the water.
It is essential to note that cats were tamed about ten thousand years ago.
Consequently, cats have been moving around with their humans. This migration could have incorporated places near water bodies.
These breeds are:
If you are planning to get one that does not mind spending time around water, you can get any of these.
Can an average cat swim?
If your cat does not belong to the above-listed breeds, there is no need to worry.
You will notice that one that accidentally finds itself in a pond or swimming pool will stay afloat for a while.
Like other mammals, the survival skill in cats dictates that once in water, it should paddle its paws.
This response is beneficial to them as it enables them to float for a while.
But due to their small bodies and tiny limbs, they cannot paddle for long.
Sadly, some have drowned in this way. Swimming pools, for example, have steep edges or widely spaced steps that your furry friend may not fit on to climb out.
Be careful when your cats are around deep bodies of water.
The following precautions could be used by them that have a swimming pool at home:
Set up some platforms that are cat-friendly (small size) to be used by the cat to climb out of the water.
Have pool barriers to barricade the pool and prevent your pet from falling in.
Have alarms in the pool to notify you immediately the cat falls in accidentally.
Can cats learn to swim better?
To be clear, if your fur baby is already grown up and does not show interest in water, let them be.
It is of no use to stress them out by the sudden acclimatization to water.
If you do not have a cat yet, you can go through the list above of various water-friendly cat breeds.
They will make it easier for you to get them in water.
All cats are unique and different, so some may not show the same progress as others.
Despite this, there are some general ways you can use to get your kitty not so scared of water.
However, do this when it is required. Mostly, cats do not have to know how to swim.
Some tips and tricks you could use to reduce your kitty’s fear of water are:
Begin with as little water as possible, in a sink or bathtub.
Make sure there is something the cat can use to climb out of the tub. It should firm and strong enough
to support its weight. Also, ensure that it will not be slippery on your cat’s paws as this could make
it panic and give up.
Introduce them to water as early on in their lives as possible.
You cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
In this case, it also applies to cats. Kittens will be much easier to train as compared to their grown-up counterparts.
To create a more positive association, make it a habit to place toys in an empty sink or bathtub for them to play.
This way, they are not freaked out when you start positioning them near a sink or tub with water.
With these, you could see a transformation in your kitty.
The Turkish Van: the “Swimming Cats” that Love Water
It is the breed of feline that loves to swim the most.
This domesticated breed was developed in the United Kingdom from a selection of cats acquired from many cities in Turkey, especially Southeast Turkey.
This breed of cat is rare and known by its Van pattern, where the color is confined to the head and tail only. The rest of the body is white.
Previously, this breed was aggressive and considered as excellent hunters.
From generations of domestication, they have become sociable and friendly towards people.
They make very playful and lively pets.
They are nicknamed the “swimming cats” because of their unusual affinity for water.
Despite the modern Turkish Van breed being mostly indoors and doesn’t having access to large bodies of water, they still love to swim.
If there aren’t any pools or watery puddles nearby, they will stir their drinking bowls or play with the water in the bathroom toilet.
How to Train Your Cat to Swim (Step-by-Step Process)
If you’ve chosen to adopt one of those breeds that like water and you further want to train it to swim, here is a course of action you can follow:
#1. Slowly carry the cat into the water, or specifically, a swimming pool.
This is the tricky part, and like all animals, there is either a fight or flight response.
The trick is don’t let it see to where you are taking it, and have something handy, maybe a toy or a treat, to preoccupy it.
Walk backward so the cat won’t see your direction towards the pool.
Keep calm and hold the cat comfortably.
#2. Soothe and comfort the cat once in the pool.
This part is dependent on the cat. If it is skittish by nature, then prepare yourself. If the cat is still calm once it sees the pool, then continue.
Hold the cat close and firmly clasp the hind feet with one hand. This will limit the chance that it will try to get out of the pool or turn around and either bite or scratch you.
A way to calm your cat is to use the type of petting stroke that you often do.
Stay in that position for a few minutes.
#3. Prepare yourself if the cat freaks out.
At this point, the cat is still calm. Slowly loosen your hold to begin the cat’s swimming lessons.
This part is risky since the cat might climb on you to get out of the pool.
A way to resolve this is to submerge yourself underwater while holding the cat above your head.
The cat will eventually let go.
#4. Let the cat adapt to the water.
Keep a firm hold on the cat’s body and be aware that the cat might go underwater.
#5. Getting the cat to swim on its own.
Once the cat is relaxed in the pool, loosen your grasp, but do not let go.
Let the cat paddle itself. Continue supporting it but hold very loosely.
#6. Teach the cat to make turns.
Once the cat is steadily paddling its feet, guide it to make turns. Instinct will kick in and will use its paws to turn by itself.
#7. Don’t let it get away to land.
Shift its position once it tries to swim towards dry land. It will build its skill in swimming.
Now your cat being in the water does not sound so bad. It is possible for our feline friends to play in the pool and enjoy it, and stay safe while at it.
Maybe they could accompany you next time you are going for a plunge!