Chances are, if you’ve got a feline friend, you’ve noticed they lack an affinity for certain things. Whether it’s the family dog, a vacuum cleaner, or the bathtub, cats are notorious for actively avoiding things they hate.
We can’t vouch for man’s best friend or that noisy sweeper, but water actually isn’t a cat’s mortal enemy. In fact, some of you reading this may be thinking “that doesn’t sound like my cat at all!” That’s because most cats instinctively know how to swim, they just prefer not to.
So where does this misconception come from? Why is it widely accepted that cats can’t swim? Read on to learn a bit more about cats, water, and swimming.
Why Is My Cat Afraid of Water?
Comparable to humans, when cats are born, they have no qualms with water. However, there are a few reasons why your cat may have developed a fear of baths or water in general:
- They weren’t exposed to water. If your cat has been domestic since it was a kitten, there is a good chance they were never exposed to water until they grew up. With water being absent for most of their lives, they become accustomed to living without it. So, a sudden plunge in the bathtub could understandably overwhelm them.
- Their breed doesn’t naturally enjoy water. Yes, there are breeds of cats that do enjoy swimming. A great example is the Turkish Van cat, which is nicknamed “the swimming cat.” Some cat breeds that originated from hotter climates might be better equipped to swim, and benefit from the cooling effect of the water.
- It waterlogs their fur. After being submerged in water, a cat’s fur will likely become waterlogged. The sudden weight could cause a feline to panic and attempt to escape the water. As stated above, some breeds enjoy the way water feels on their fur, but for most, being completely soaked is nothing short of terrifying.
There are a few more in addition to those listed above, but these are the main reasons cats hate water. That being said, is there a way your cat could overcome their fear of swimming?
Exposing Your Cat to Water
The easiest way to get your cat acclimated to water is to start when they are a kitten. Kittens can’t fear what they don’t understand, so these young felines won’t scare as easily as full grown cats. Kittens that grow up in the presence of water will be less opposed to it and may even learn to enjoy it. It’s important you follow some guidelines when exposing your cat to water:
- Keep the water warm.
- Don’t force a cat into water that is too deep or has no ramp or exit.
- Keep the splashing and noise to a minimum.
By adhering to those steps, it will make exposing your cat to water easier on you, and less frightening for them.
Cat Swimming Safety
Since your cat is not used to being in water, there are some safety risks. Instinctively, cats know how to swim, but certain conditions should be met and monitored to ensure your pet’s safety. Some basic rules are:
- Give your cat an exit point. Your cat will likely struggle to escape water once they are exposed to it. Therefore, it’s important that there be a ledge or ramp they can use to climb out of the water if they are uncomfortable. Sinks and bathtubs work great for your cat’s first swim.
- Maintain your pool’s chemicals. You should regularly be checking your pool’s water to make sure it is chemically balanced, but this is even more important when you have animals that swim. Too much chlorine or other chemicals could have a negative effect on your pet’s health, so regulate your pool accordingly.
- Dry your cat’s ears. Cats have deep ear canals, which means there is ample room for infection if water gets inside them. Most cats will avoid getting water in their ears instinctively, but always thoroughly dry them afterwards to be safe.
Cat Veterinary Services in Germantown, MD
To review: yes – cats can swim. However, it’s entirely possible your cat just isn’t too keen on the idea of water. Cats can be exposed to water gradually, but it’s important to take safety precautions.
If you have questions about caring for your cat, or need to schedule a cat veterinary service, call Germantown Veterinary Clinic at 240-252-7467 or contact us online.