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Can cats swim? A majority of cat owners must have asked themselves this question. So if you too have ever seen your cat completely panicked at the idea of falling into the water or if you are afraid that your cat might drown because you live near a river or other, let’s see the different opinions that exist on this subject.

Cats are known to be afraid of water. Indeed, being from the most deserted regions of the world, they are not used to being confronted with water and have learned to do without it.

As a proof, they do not even need a river to hydrate since the water contained in their prey is enough for them!

From there, it seems unlikely that they will be able to swim… And yet!

Do Cats Know How to Swim?

Well, cats can swim!

Cats are innately able to swim, even if it is not their primary specialty. In fact, this skill is instinctive, so your cat doesn’t need to learn to swim. Swimming is an automatic reflex that will set itself up if it falls into the water and get out as quickly as possible.

Theoretically, all cats are able to swim. However, since many cats are afraid of water, they tend to avoid it and therefore don’t always have the opportunity in their lives to use their innate swimming skills.

Conversely, other types of felines, such as tigers, jaguars or leopards, are more often confronted with water and are therefore considered good swimmers.

And for good reason, in the wild, a simple stream should not stop a predator in its hunt or a prey in its flight. It should not be an obstacle in any way. It is a matter of survival.

In addition, the cat as a predator may be induced to get close to the water in order to fish, although most cats will take great care to stay in an area where they “have paws”.

Others, more daring, may be much more resourceful and start swimming in order to reach their hunting objective.

Can Cats Swim? Yes, But the Risk of Drowning Is Still Present

So the real danger for a cat is not to fall in the water and sink. In reality, the risk would rather be related to exhaustion if your cat falls into the water and does not manage to get out, for example if your cat falls into a covered pool, etc.

Another potential risk comes from hypothermia. Indeed, if your cat falls into very cold water, it is quite possible that he will drown because of the thermal shock, it will be difficult or impossible for him to swim out of it.

Why Don’t Cats Like Water?

Their Origins

To explain why cats don’t like water, many people hypothesize their origins. Indeed, most of today’s cat breeds were born in the Middle East, in desert regions. But in the desert, water is hard to find! From a genetic point of view, cats would simply not be made to like water. However, most cats naturally know how to swim.

It is also noticeable that cats coming from regions with more large lakes are on their side used to water: we can for example mention the Norwegian, who comes from the forests of Norway and who likes to splash around in water!

Cats Don’t Like to Get their Fur Wet

Another explanation often put forward to explain why cats don’t like water is that they simply can’t stand having a wet fur! Hence the fact that your cat looks gray when it comes to going out in the rain.

Water will make your cat’s fur heavier, which hinders his movements and makes him less fast and agile. A feeling that felines hate above all else!

In addition, a wet fur in cool weather can be very unpleasant for a cat, since its hair sometimes takes a long time to dry.

Their Movements Are Hindered in Water

All cat owners have necessarily noticed it: a cat can sneak or climb where he wants, no closet is ever too high for him! Our feline friends are indeed incredibly flexible and agile, and know how to be clever when it comes to moving around.

Even if they can swim, cats don’t like to move so hard in the water: their movements are slower and they can’t run away quickly in case of danger.

A Relationship to Water between Fear and Fascination

However, even though most cats don’t like water, they remain fascinated by it. Haven’t you ever caught your cat in the middle of contemplating the trickle of tap water? Cats like to understand what’s going on in their environment, that’s why, even if they are afraid of water, they end up being irremediably attracted to it.

Take care never to leave a full bathtub unattended: your cat might want to get close to it to observe the surface of the water, slip, panic and get tired of trying to get out of it, only to end up drowning in it?

Can Cats Swim? Some Cats Like Water!

Contrary to popular belief, not all cats are afraid of water. On the contrary, some of them particularly enjoy getting wet. This is particularly the case of the so-called “Nordic” breeds, such as the Maine Coon, the Norwegian or the Siberian.

But other breeds of cats, such as the Bengal or the Abyssinian, are also great lovers of bathing. Not to mention alley cats, who can also enjoy water!

It is not uncommon for these cats to join their owners during their bath.

Water Loving Cat Breeds

As we said, not all cats are the same. Some cats that are used to being bathed from a very young age will appreciate the contact with water throughout their lives and will not be – or only slightly – reluctant to be bathed.

Nevertheless, it is a fact that some breeds of cats really enjoy water and swimming in it is a real pleasure for them. Discover them!

The Abyssinian

Abyssinian Cat

Abyssinian Cat – Photo by auenleben from Pixabay

Playful, gentle, affectionate, curious, intelligent… the Abyssinian is not lacking in qualities in addition to its great beauty and incomparable elegance that evokes the majesty of the puma.

It is however a tomcat very close and dependent on its master, but who also has the particularity to adore water.

Very good swimmer, he does not hesitate to dive to swim in all the water points he finds.

The Abyssinian comes from the warm regions around Ethiopia or Egypt, but some give him a birth on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Can this proximity to the sea explain his desire to swim?

The Bengal

The Bengal is a large cat that weighs 8 to 9 kg on average, but it is best known for its spotted coat, reminiscent of the leopard. This original color would be due to its crossbreeding between a domestic cat and an Asian wild cat.

Curious, intelligent and lively, this affectionate tomcat is also a great lover of water. His attraction is so strong that he does not hesitate to join his masters in their bathtub or in their pool.

The Maine Coon

Maine Coon Cats

Can cats swim? Maine Coon cats do! – Photo by Юрий Сидоренко from Pixabay

The Maine Coon is another large cat, which weighs 6 to 10 kg, or even more since the biggest ones easily reach 14 kg.

Soft, attentive, cuddly and playful, the Maine Coon is also a great lover of water and loves to take baths. He will not hesitate to come and have fun in a sink full of water and soak in it for his pleasure.

Originally from Maine, in the northern United States, the Maine Coon is intrepid and adventurous.

Its attraction for water is often justified by the fact that it is believed to be a cross between farm cats and Norwegian cats, imported by the Vikings during their countless conquests.

Can its origin from humid regions alone explain its attraction for water? It is still a mystery. But it is also said that the particle “coon” of its name would come from “racoon”, the raccoon, which for some would also be its ancestor …

The Norwegian Forest Cat

Norwegian Forest Cat

Norwegian Forest Cat – Photo by Pablo Klaschka from Pixabay

The Norwegian Forest breed is a cat that is not afraid of water and is even a very good swimmer. This ancient breed and listed in the Nordic myths is part of the large sizes of tomcats since they can weigh up to 10 kg.

In spite of its thick fur, it is not at all bothered by water and enjoys diving in it from time to time. Can we think that its northern origin, therefore from a particularly humid region of the world, influences this attraction? Difficult to affirm.

Soft and loving, the Norwegian Forest cat is nevertheless a beautiful animal which will know how to delight you, because it is a good companion!

The Siberian

The Siberian is a breed of cat that loves to bathe, play with water and swim. It feels like a small fish and will appreciate to follow you on your outings around the lakes to take a break for a few laps.

Known also for its hypoallergenic virtues, the Siberian is a friend to people with allergies.

It is said to have been imported from Siberia by Russian settlers. It is an ancient breed that also comes from cold and humid regions. Is that enough to explain his attraction for water? Good question!

The Turkish Van Cat

The Turkish Van cat is a beautiful cat with eyes often minnows known for his true passion for water. He doesn’t just take a little dip like some, but he doesn’t hesitate to throw himself into the pool, the sea or a lake to do a few lengths.

This friend of children is an ideal playmate who also likes to climb around.

He is originally from Turkey, especially from the Lake Van region, from which he takes his name.

Some explain his attraction to water by the extreme temperatures of the region and therefore by his need to swim to cool down. Others justify it by the need to feed and in this region, only the fish of the lake are real prey!

How to Encourage your Cat to Swim?

Even if your cat can swim, that’s no reason to throw him in the water. It would only traumatize him! Indeed, our feline friends are sensitive beings who hate to be rushed.

In reality, there is no way to encourage your cat to join you in the bath or in the pool. It all depends on him and how he feels about the water.

If one day he wants to go, he is free to do so. On the other hand, if he doesn’t want to come within one meter of the water’s surface all his life, it’s his choice. Never force him. And above all, don’t punish him by spraying water on him, you will only aggravate his negative feelings about water!

Can Cats Swim? The Conclusion

In conclusion, although most cat breeds do not like to swim, they all have this ability in them and this in an instinctive way.

Cat by the Pool Photo by Brigitte Ferauge from Pixabay

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About the Author

Skye

A girl from Scotland who's in love with cats! I love to share tips on how to take care of our beloved furry friends.

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