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How to Teach a Cat to Swim

How to Teach a Cat to Swim

If you have a pool and a cat, you’ve probably never thought about going for a swim with your kitty. But with a little patience and lots of love, maybe you can enjoy a splash with your feline friend.

Safety First!

There are a couple of important things to consider before training your precious kitty to swim. Always supervise your cat when they’re swimming and take them out of the water immediately if they start to struggle. Stick to man-made pools only with a set of steps that your cat can use to get out of the water safely.

If your cat has mobility issues like arthritis, they might not be strong enough to swim on their own. However, swimming can be an excellent way for such kitties to exercise because it is low-impact and will help build up their muscles. Consider buying a cat life jacket for your cat if they have health problems that could limit their ability to swim.

Steps to Teaching a Cat to Swim

Firstly, pick up your kitty and start to walk slowly into the water. Stay at a depth where you can hold your cat above the water without them actually touching the water. If your cat is especially scared, it might be useful to hold a towel over their head until they are over the water. Talk calmly to your feline as you carry them and wait until they are completely relaxed before moving onto the next step.

Now you will start to slowly dip your cat into the water. Keep a firm grip on them as you do this. If your cat starts to panic at any point, don’t lower them into the water any further but don’t lift them out either. Gently talk to them until they are calm and continue lowering them down. Eventually, you will have your cat almost completely submerged in the water with just their head in the air

At some point, your cat will start to paddle instinctively in the water. Start to loosen your grip slightly and give them lots of praise. Gently hold onto your cat as they get used to the feeling of swimming, but don’t let them leave the pool just yet.

Once they are paddling comfortably and are relaxed, you can let them swim on their own. Point your cat towards the steps out and release your grip. They will probably jump straight out of the water once they reach the edge. Give them plenty of praise and a treat.

We have put together a simple step-by-step guide for training your cat to swim if you ever need to refer back to these steps. Check it out below!

Teaching a Cat to Swim: Quick Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Hold your cat above the water until they relax.
  2. Slowly dip your cat into the water.
  3. Loosen your grip on your cat slightly until they start to paddle.
  4. Once your cat is swimming well, point them towards the pool steps and let them swim out on their own.
  5. Repeat, with lots of praise throughout.

How Long Does It Take to Teach a Cat to Swim?

How long it takes to teach your cat to swim depends entirely on their personality, age, and previous experience with water. Older cats that dislike water could take a very, very long time to get comfortable with swimming. On the other hand, young kittens are much more open to new experiences and may start to enjoy being in the water right away!

As always, you should be patient and gentle with your cat when teaching them to swim. If you get frustrated when your cat panics or tries to get away, they might never want to go into the water again. Speak calmly to your kitty during the whole process and before you know it, they might start to love going for a splash in the pool.

Can All Cats Learn to Swim?

To prevent this, you should try to assess your kitty’s thoughts about water long before you consider bringing them into a pool. Small things like petting them with a wet hand or lifting them into a dry sink/bath and slowly putting the tap on can give you an indication of how tolerant your cat will be to learning how to swim.

The other two reasons relate to health issues that your cat may have. Felines with mobility issues like arthritis can make swimming difficult for your cat. Yes, I know we said earlier that swimming can help cats with arthritis, and it can. But consider if your kitty is strong enough for this activity. If they leave the pool feeling absolutely exhausted, perhaps it would be kinder to keep them out of the water.

The second problem that cats can run into when swimming is ear infections. When water gets into your feline’s ears it creates the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow. In most cases, your cat will be safe having a quick splash in the pool. But if they are prone to ear problems, it might be for the best to skip the swimming lessons and stick to dry playtime instead.

How Long Can Cats Swim for?

We know humans can swim for incredible lengths with proper training and conditioning, but what about fluffykins? What is a realistic swimming routine for your cat? This is a difficult question to answer because, just like people, how far a cat can swim entirely depends on how fit they are.

Four-legged animals swim much more efficiently than people and cats are no exception. Wild tigers can swim great lengths and will often cross rivers to get to other parts of their territory or when hunting. Your domestic kitty is much smaller than a tiger, but you would probably still be surprised at how long they can keep themselves afloat for.

However, you probably won’t ever see the maximum end of how long your cat can swim for. They will usually swim straight for the edge of the pool as soon as you let them go. If you want to build up your cat’s strength by swimming, you could move them further and further away from the pool steps over time.

But you should always stop before your kitty gets tired, especially when you’re first teaching them to swim. This will both keep your feline safe and will help them look forward to their next swimming lesson!

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Lola - September 6, 2021

First I want to thank you for the nice posts, I really enjoyed reading it. My cat Steward has a lot attraction for water; daily he jumps on the tub or vanity and asks to turn water on. First he gets his paws and head wet, and after that he starts drinking water. Now we have a pool and he started going on the edge and very interested on the water. He is 8 years old; Do you think at this age I can still teacher him to swimming? Thanks again!!! Lola, Pensacola FL.

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