Many have speculated whether cats can swim underwater. New pool owners have looked at their feline pets and asked themselves: Can cats swim in a pool?
The same questions are rarely posed by dog owners. They seem to swim naturally. Indeed, I have watched my friends’ dogs swimming in the ocean. They seem to love the water.
Do cats hate water? Is this one of those differences which separate cats from dogs?
Let’s explore the mysteries of cats and water.
Can Cats Swim?
We often think of cats as non-swimmers simply because they avoid water whenever they can as a rule.
Usually, cat owners don’t need to coax their pets into a bath since cats look after their own grooming.
Most cats avoid water. But that doesn’t mean they can’t swim. In truth, cats swim naturally. They are natural swimmers—just like dogs. However, the difference is: Cats rarely engage in swimming for fun! It’s just not their thing, in the same way, eating sushi or skydiving are things I avoid.
Do Cats Hate Water?
Any cat owner who has ever tried to lure their pet into a bath can attest to the fact that cats are not great lovers of water. In fact, cats can get downright hissing, clawing, spitting mad if they are forced into a tub.
It’s not just the water. Cats don’t like surprises. They liked to experience the world on their own terms. They will reach out a tentative paw to catch a drip from the faucet. They might even dip a paw in the toilet. But they won’t be bullied into water experiences.
Besides being a new and potentially scary experience there are other reasons cats don’t like water.
Have you ever seen a wet cat? The top layer of your feline friend’s coat is somewhat water-resistant. When it gets drenched, it becomes like your grandmother’s fur coat. It’s as heavy as a rock. Your poor cat can’t move with all that wet fur.
Here’s another thing. Cats have a higher temperature than we humans. They also have more difficulty staying warm. Cold wet fur takes forever to dry and poor Pussy will be hours before she can stop shaking. And don’t think you can fix this with your trusty hair dryer! Cat’s skin is very sensitive to both heat and cold.
So to say all cats hate water would be an oversimplification. Many cats do. But, not all cats hate water. Most domestic cats dislike water. But cats in the wild—particularly those in rain forest areas spend time in the water.
It’s a Hereditary Thing
Historically, cats came from hot dry areas of the world—like Turkey, Egypt, Persia. Water is a foreign thing to them and not one that they’ve been bred to embrace.
However, there are exceptions. In ancient Egypt, people used cats as working animals. They were expected to catch mice but also to help in fishing.
The Turkish Van actually swims for pleasure. Tigers—which are big members of the cat family—also swim. Sometimes these big cats swim significant distances.
Can Cats Swim Underwater?
The answer to this is yes—but with caution. We’ve already discussed the fact that cats are natural swimmers. But they do not love it the way Fido does. They get waterlogged when their coats get wet and it takes forever to dry.
Cats hate being cold so they will not willingly subject themselves to water that isn’t higher than human temperature.
Since that is the case, you will seldom see a domestic cat swimming underwater.
There are some other things to consider. If you don’t like the feel of water—and most domestic cats don’t—then they are not going to put themselves in a position where they must swim underwater.
Moreover, some cats have been bred to be less muscular and leaner. This is not a swimmer’s body. Other cats have been bred for long luxurious hair. That is lovely to look at but not in the water.
Can Cats Swim in a Pool?
We’ve already established that cans can swim so they could swim in oceans or in your family pool.
However, there are some considerations. Because your swimming pool has steep sides, your feline friend can’t climb out of a pool by herself. If she lands in the pool and no one is there to fish her out, your cat could panic trying to get out or die of exhaustion waiting to get rescued.
Cats also have sensitive skin and a heightened sense of smell. So, treated pools are not pleasant places for your cat to be. Likewise, swimming in the ocean is not recommended. Saltwater and stiff currents make ocean swimming unpleasant for your pet.
So, the short answer to: Can cats swim? Yes. But, your cat is a valued member of your family. Thus, you do not want to subject him to unpleasant experiences. Water is not generally something your cat will seek out.