Cats are capable of swimming in water. This is a natural impulse that all cats possess, and the majority will begin paddling when submerged. Young kittens are often less skillful than adult cats and have difficulty swimming. They retain the instinct and will improve their swimming ability as they age. Many domestic cats avoid water because it dries out their fur and creates an unpleasant sensation.
Certain domestic cat breeds are unconcerned about this and are excellent swimmers. The Norwegian forest cat, Maine coon, Savannah, Bengal, Turkish van, Manx, Abyssinian, and Japanese bobtail are included in this category. This may vary according to individual cats and their prior traumatic experiences with water. Despite this, your cat can be trained to swim.
Do Cats Have an Inherent Ability to Swim?
Cats are born with an innate ability to swim. Like dogs, horses, and other mammals, their survival instinct tells them to begin paddling immediately upon being submerged. Dependent on the experience level and age of the cat, the swimming technique may be less than graceful or efficient. Almost all cats, on the other hand, will know how to start swimming if necessary.
Certain felines may even have severe disabilities that impair their ability to kick their legs or lift their heads above the surface.
Very young kittens are least likely to be able to swim if necessary. Because they are still learning to walk properly, swimming will require excessive skill and energy, putting them at risk of drowning. Similarly, older cats may have a more refined swimming instinct but struggle to maintain the strength required to swim properly.
Numerous wild cats swim to cross rivers or streams, pursue prey, or even stalk prey if necessary. Swimming is more of a survival ability than a recreational activity for domestic cats. They will avoid contact with water but will begin paddling rather than drown.
Can a Cat Drown?
Despite the fact that cats are excellent swimmers, they can still drown. Drowning occurs in cats when any liquid enters their respiratory tract and obstructs their ability to breathe. They can drown on land if enough liquid has entered their airways.
This occurs if the cat receives no assistance or medical attention. It is a painful and slow process, so be careful if you live near any large pools, lakes, or rivers. It would be good if you always kept an eye on your cat when it is near them. At the same time, most cats can swim well enough to avoid drowning accidents.
Kitten or senior cat may lack the necessary mobility need to stay afloat and avoid inhaling water. Even an experienced adult cat may become trapped in rough waters or run out of energy before pulling itself onto land. If you haven’t previously watched your cat swimming skillfully, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
How Do Cats Swim?
Cats swim by paddling their legs while maintaining an above-water position. Even when swimming may appear to be a simple task, do not expect your cat to be able to swim underwater! It will lack the necessary knowledge and will instead face extreme stress and drowning if forced below the water’s surface.
According to Brain Research, cats’ locomotory patterns are very similar when they swim and when they walk. In both situations, felines involved in two similar movements:
- Followed by the right hindlimb, left forelimb moves forward,
- And the left hindlimb moves forward, followed by the right forelimb
These two patterns are symmetrical on each side, which means that they will occur similarly in the left and right limbs. However, the movement patterns are asymmetrically coupled across the cat’s right and left sides.
For example, when the left front leg of the cat moves forward, the right-back leg does as well. When the right front leg forward, the left-back leg does as well. However, the forelimbs and hindlimbs on the same side do not advance simultaneously. Swimmers and walkers will alternate between these patterns to move forward.
This enables cats to expend the least amount of energy possible while still forcing themselves rapidly. This is even more beneficial in water. They can maintain their balance and drag more water with each movement due to the diagonal pattern. If you’re having difficulty visualizing this, pay close attention to the way your catwalks. You’ll notice these common patterns of movement.
Most domestic cats are born with the ability to swim and are pretty skilled at it. This is, however, primarily a survival instinct. Regardless of this, you should never expect your cat to be able to swim independently. Cats are still susceptible to drowning. If you have a pond or swimming pool, keep it covered or prevent your cat from venturing outside when you cannot supervise it.