Can cats swim in water?

By now, we know they can climb up walls, run like a lion, pounce on you from unexpected locations, and eat like no tomorrow. But, the question that stumps them all is “can cats swim?”

We all have put our cats in a bath at one point with a usually negative reaction. Cats and water aren’t exactly the best of friends.

We’ve all seen our fair share of the mayhem on the internet of cats and water, but the elusive question, “can cats swim” remains unanswered.

The history of swimming cats

Good news is, we have an answer to the enigmatic “can cats swim” question with a simple answer: yes! And here’s the stunning thing – they’re good at swimming. So good, in fact, that the ancient Egyptians relied on cats for fishing and hunting.

Yes, the same cats that are complete wimps when it comes to a single droplet of water. Cats used to be wild, hardy creatures that fared the temperate bane of their harsh environments. They were so nimble and skilled that earned cats the place as a God in Egyptian society. They were that cool.

In comparison, our cats today seem to be a dichotomy from the creatures that were once revered as Gods in their hieroglyphics. They’ve since turned fat, lazy, slow, and moody. They never seem to want to do anything productive in their life, but break the internet.

Swimming Breeds

Although cats have changed, you have to remember that cats and lions share 95.6% of DNA. This means that cats have a lot of similar abilities, swimming being an ability they both share.

This ability can be found in cats today. Breeds like the Turkish Van breed swim regularly. They are renowned worldwide for this talent and have been nicknamed the “swimming cat.”

Turkish Van breeds aren’t the only ones. There are many other ‘swimming breeds’ as well like the:

  • Turkish Angora
  • Bengal
  • Maine Coon
  • American Bobtail

And so much more! The key to their success is the continual exposure to water as kittens, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be aversive to water.

Cats hate water

Most domestic cats hate water. They hate water so much that they will go to virtually any depth to not get in it. This is due – as scientists believe – to early domestication, as we’ve cuddled up our furry balls for too long without any exposure to nature.

As a result, cats loathe water and associate it with negative experiences, uncomfortable feelings – as wet fur weighs down on cats – and remain content being outside of water.

Cats don’t fear water

By now, we’ve established cats not only can swim, but have a good history of it. So, how did cats suddenly go from hydrophilic to hydrophobic? Although cats hate water, they by no means fear it.

Just like humans, cats will swim like Phelps if their life counted on it. This can be seen in real time with wildcats. Wildcats – cats that haven’t been domesticated – love to take a quick dip in the pool to cool down. Matter of fact, they love it so much that the Asian fishing cat has webbed feet to help it swim faster!

The Van Cat Case

You are probably thinking, “swimming is only for certain breeds, not my furry little ball.” Your premise may be right, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. This is where the Van Cat case comes into the picture to dispel the myth.

We know by now that the Turkish Van breed is a swimming breed and are dubbed the “swimming cat.” The breed those cats are named after are the Van cats, which are found swimming regularly in Lake Van.

In the 1950s, two British women – Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday – visited Turkey and took home four cats. They called the breed of cats they took home the “Turkish Van Breed.” Soon, everyone attributed those cats with cats that love water.

But here’s where the story takes a wrong turn: the cats weren’t actually Van cats. Matter of fact, those cats didn’t even dip a toe in Lake Van. They were normal cats!

The reason they’ve become water-loving cats is because of the mere belief they’re Van cats. As a result, owners give their cats plenty of exposure to the water when they’re baby kittens.

This has helped affirm the façade of the swimming cat, and as a result nobody noticed! Hence, why they’re called ‘swimming cat.’

Teach your cat how to swim

What does this mean for us? That means we’ve found our answer to the question of, “can cats swim” along with a clear guide on how to turn that into a reality. Your cat can swim, and this is best tips on how to achieve it:

  1. Start when they’re small. Kittens that are bathed will tolerate water more when they age.
  2. Acclimatize your Kitten. Put her in your sink with a few toys a few weeks before you bath them.
  3. Encourage your cat. Work slow, talk gently, reward your cat often, and treat them with love while they’re training. You want them to associate the water with love.
  4. Test them out. Put your cat out to the test while you’re on their side. Slow and easy and only release them when you’re 100% sure they can swim on your own.

Tada! Your cat can now swim! Can we expect your cat to become the next Michael Phelps of cats? Who knows, but if they do cite this article as a source of your success!

Final Takeaway

Not only have we answered the elusive question of, “can cats swim,” their histories, along with tips on how to turn your cats into Michael Phelps! It’s now time to buy your cat a mini swim suit and start to get your cat acquainted with the water.

Over time, your cat will slowly become fascinated with water and soon love it so much that they may start fishing for you. By then, you’ll have found the inner-lion hiding within your cat all along!


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