So you may wonder why someone would need to teach a cat to swim.  For me it's a safety issue, but it's also because I have one real cool cat.  Her name is Sassy.

If you look at the first photo you will see that our sliding door from our house is not too far from the pool.  All of our cats are strictly indoors, but some of them want to explore outside.  To get out, many times they will dart out of the door in almost a blind run and nearly end up in the pool.  Many pets will "panic swim" if they end up in the pool.  This is where they flap their feet basically trying to walk on the water rather than swim through it.  Often times they get worn out and drown.

I've got six cats and Sassy is the only one that will dart out of the door and is the only one I feel needs swimming lessons.  She also happens to be a very adventurous kitty who I was sure wouldn't have problems once she got use to the water.

Based on some comments I will add a couple pieces of information here.
1. The pool has a solar heater and was around 90 degrees F.
2. The chlorine levels in the pool are maintained to just above drinking water.
3. Sassy had been around the pool for many months prior to this and so wasn't really afraid of it anymore.
4. I changed to title to better reflect what is actually happening.  I'm not teaching the cat to swim, but simply giving her a safe and calm environment to develop what should come naturally to her.

Step 1: Safely Get the Cat Into the Water.

This could be the trickiest part of all.  Most cats will "fight & flight" if they see you taking them towards a pool.  So the trick here is to not let them see the water while you are getting in.

Hold the cat comfortably in your arms and do whatever you can to keep the kitty calm.  Walk backwards in to the water so the cat cannot see you entering the pool.
There's nothing sadder than an indoor cat. Let 'em free.
That's not true. My cat hates outside and even with the doors left open he will not dain to go anywhere near outside. He lives a great life even plush life and he knows it and he is part bobcat. He is very bonded with my little pup. She doesn't likeoutside either.
<p>Unwatched outdoor cats are basically walking environmental disasters, in addition to being inevitable roadkill. I agree that sticking a cat on a sofa for a lifetime is awful, but throwing it out your back door is irresponsible.</p>
<p>I hope you don't have kids...<br><br>Or are they bound to the house as well because they could get hurt in the big scary world out there?<br><br>Life is life-threatening... and sorry but an indoor cat has no life!!</p>
Cats although very smart in some ways are not as fast developing or understanding to the wonders of our man made world and although nature is wonderful for them (in the same way technology is wonderful for kids) technology such as CARS are dangerous and some cats NEVER learn to avoid them without their owners like children/teens/adults do. No, cats and children shouldn't be locked inside all the time but cats do need to be protected from things (sometimes forever) that we wouldn't need to keep our kids from once they learned about them.
<p>With every cat we had / have we made sure she is afraid of the streets by:<br>1. taking them on the arm, going in front of a loud car and starting it.<br>2. walking with them on the arm to the street 'till the first car comes by<br><br>In both cases they run as fast as possible back to the house and are afraid of cars &amp; streets for the next few years.</p><p>Repeat occasionally and you have a save cat.</p><p>Me / my husband had in total 7 cats since our childhood and we live near a big street.</p><p>None of the 7 cats goes near that street or has ever been injured by a car!</p><p>So don't teach your cat how to swim, teach her how to fear cars!</p>
<p>We don't have cars in our back yard.</p>
Exactly! These people need to stop inposing there opinions, if you dont need the info posted here take your opinion elsewhere.
<p>Domestic cats have never been and never will be a part of the natural world. They were strictly created by man, for man. They do not belong out doors, other than maybe on a farm or other controlled environment (i.e. many theme parks actively maintain feral cat colonies to keep rodents under control). While I do agree with supporting feral cat colonies, but they should be spayed or neutered then left to finish their life out the only way they know.</p>
<p>As a population genetic I can tell you that no matter how much you &quot;breed&quot; a cat: domestication happened not more then 3000 years from now (in ancient Egypt) and for most breeds wayyyy later. In 3000 years no animal looses its basic instincts. That's why my well-bred pure blood Birman cat with strict indoor parents catches more mice (and even fat rats) then my neighbors lazy common European shorthair cat. </p><p>AND...my birman cat and I totally disagree with you (and I'm pretty sure once your cats would know there is an outside world they would agree with me too...)</p><p>Even when my birma follows me out of the house, she never even walks on <br>the sidewalk but rather alongside the neighbors front gardens and even <br>increases the distance to the street when a car is approaching.</p><p>You<br> just have to make sure they have respect of streets and cars when they <br>are kittens and then they can safely move in the environment of a city. As <br>mentioned before: none of 7 cats has ever been in trouble. And don't <br>think I live at the countryside. I live in a city in Germany with a lot <br>of narrow streets and many, many cars.</p>
<p>p.s. Our cats would disagree with you.</p>
<p>I agree with you, but there are situations when inside is a much safer environment for the cat. Where I live, we have a helluva lot of coyotes. We moved here with two indoor/outdoor cats and a purely outdoor cat (she was part feral and hated being inside for more than a day at a time). At first, we weren't aware of the coyote problem, as we used to live in a much more rural setting where the coyotes had enough food without having to pick off the neighborhood pets. In the first year and a half at our new house, all three of our cats had passed due to coyotes. We got two more cats, and one of them went missing too (she was a tiny kitten, so we aren't sure if a coyote or hawk got her). Last year, the other cat got out and didn't come back. Out of the eight cats I've owned in my life, all but the two I currently have were killed by coyotes, and the oldest to die was only around four years old. The cats we have now are 100% strictly indoors, and I hope they are able to leave longer lives. Keeping cats inside all their lives can be a bit sad, but nothing is more sad than having your cat die a premature death.</p>
<p>Two times we have had cats get out and go in to the neighbors yard and both times they were attacked by their dog and hurt, one of them very seriously. There's nothing sadder than a dead cat because people are irresponsible.</p>
<p>my cat Fern will not even get close to water unless she is thirsty</p>
<p>do not try to teach your cat to swim.</p><p>99.9 percent of cats are petrified of water and this would be extremely stressful for them and probably shatter their trust in you. And 99.9 percent of people wouldn't be able to obtain the calm, patient, consistent manner that it would take.</p><p>I respect this person teaching for &quot;safety&quot; but if the cats were let out and left alone to slowly check out the area they would just avoid the pool. </p>
<p>You did a study? Cool!</p>
<p>I'm teaching my cat to hike on a leash, and swimming is a part of that. Thanks for the post!</p>
<p>I have a new idea now!</p>
<p>lol niceee</p>
Well, so much for being able to take Sassy in to the pool, at least for the next few weeks. <br> <br>When I say that Sassy is &quot;very adventurous&quot;, I meant it. She's also one tough cookie. <br> <br>Last week I went to do our bi-monthly nail trimming on the cats and discovered Sassy had pulled off a claw and the tip of one of her toes. Basically she &quot;declawed&quot; a toe. We didn't find any blood in the house, so we are assuming it happened a few days prior when she had gotten out for a few hours and that by the time she got home the blood had clotted and the toe stopped bleeding. <br> <br>She showed no signs of being injured and is running and jumping as if nothing had happened. She's on antibiotics now, but no long term exposure to water until the wound heals over.
Every cat I've seen fall in water, whether it was a pool or a bathtub, has basically bounced off the surface, given an evil look to anyone nearby, and run off. I really couldn't see the point of this Instructable, until I remembered my late boy cat, who was one of the sweetest, dumbest creatures I've ever met. He'd charge out the front door (indoor cat), panic, and run to the neighbor's house, trying to get in. More than once. Point taken, and I see no cruelty here.
Thanks Amiga, <br> <br>As I have said in a few other comments, if Sassy ever had ended up in the pool by accident, she probably would have gotten out on her own. But she is such a brave and adventurous cat that I thought she'd be up to swimming. I will try to get her to get ner the water on her own this summer.
One of my all-time favorite Instuctables. Thanks for sharing!
Glad you enjoyed it. I'm going to be doing some more work with Sassy to see if she has the potential of going in the water on her own. She is so food\treat motivated that I think I will be able to get her to
Excuse me but this is nonsense, I've had cats all my life, sometimes they have fallen into the pool and they just came out. <br>You can't teach a cat to swim, cause they already know, like all animals, even elephants. <br>If a cat or dog get drowned is only because they dint reach the border or the ladder. <br>So, if you providea WAY OUT it will be just enough, and it WONT drown (panic or not).
I have 7 cats and they all panic in the tub if I fill it to full for them to stand and don't hold them and calm them down and if I left them unattended they would probably panic into exhaustion I am sure and that is where they would drown. what he is doing is teaching the cat to rely on its self and to be confident in a bad situation which means life or death none of this is nonsense for example lets take human beings if not taught to swim most likely we would not be able to deal with a bad happening in water and drown but it is in or nature to swim that's why our fingers and toes have webbing but my 60 year old step mom still can't swim and panics in water even though she has a higher capability of logic processing than a cat.
I understand why he does it, but again, &gt;&gt;it's enough to provide a way out from pool&lt;&lt; <br>Personally i don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s necessary to bathe a cat neither, only in several cases of fleas. <br>They do a nice job keeping themselves clean. (My vet supports this also). <br> <br>I've never heard of a drowned cat, I mean NEVER. Have you? in that case did the cat had a way out? <br> <br>I'm sorry I don't consider adequate the comparison with your step mom or any human. <br>This is what this all the controversy of this instructable is about; People humanize pets. They should be treated with all love and respect. But they are not humans. There isn&rsquo;t such thing as a good or bad cat/dog. It&rsquo;s instinct. <br>
As I said before, if Sassy fell in the pool before I showed her she could swim, she probably would have made it out. I can't find specific numbers, only a generalization that approximately 5,000 pets drown every year. (www.petplace.com) . <br>We also keep the pool filled to just a few inches below the lip so it is easier and more likely for any animal to get out. <br> <br>As for never hearing of a cat drowning in a pool, most people would probably never report this to anyone that would make the incident public. <br> <br>But there is no harm in doing this and it's only result is I now KNOW my cat can swim.
Cats this, cats that, its surprising the level of generalisation in some of the comments here, in my experience cats are as individual as snowflakes.&nbsp;<br> <br> Our current cat (who is now over 17 yrs old) would have taken my arm off if i had gone anywhere near a pool with him, yet he does not mind walking in the rain and getting wet (so long as it is his decision..) as much as most. One of my old cats would not have minded at all - didn't mind being washed - was even happy travelling in a car, and was totally trusting. Another was so neurotic he was scared of his own shadow, would scream the house down if he had to travel, trying to teach him to swim would have resulted in a complete mental meltdown.<br> <br> In the end it is the responsibility of the owner to decide whether this instructable is applicable - or worthwhile - for their individual pet. Only the owner (or custodian as we prefer to call it) of the cat knows their own animals traits and thresholds, and can weigh up the benefits of this type of 'training'. Personally, i would not even consider it for our current cat, though if we had a younger pet and percieved a potential pussy in pool problem perhaps..
instead of owner or custodian I think of myself as dad I am there parent they my kids and as far as training a cat or any animal to do anything especially something out of there comfort zone it can be done you may have to be more patient or take a different approach with different cats but they all could be taught to swim I have 7 children and they are all extremely different in how I teach them to do things but I can teach them all to do the same things.
Yes, cats are all very different. Of the 7 cats I've owned, 6 still with us, only two are suitable to being taken into the water. A third cat, won't touch the water, but loves to sit on a boogie board and float around the pool when we are in it. <br> <br>I got Sassy when she was only about 6 weeks old. I knew from the very beginning that she was going to be one cool kitty, and she is.
One of my cats loves to go out on the paddle boat with me, and of course one time while pacing around the edge he fell overboard. I thought he would be panicked when he surfaced, but he wasn't. Turned out he was a very good swimmer and headed back to shore on his own. (We weren't very far out and it's not a lake, but rather a pond.) When I got to him on shore, though, he was madder than a wet hen!! The looks I got!! He still goes out with me in the boat, but hasn't fallen over the side again; though he does jump off when we get near shore and wades the rest of the way in.
Cutest Instructable ever.
Awww this brought tears to my eyes. I LOVE that you love your cat enough to want to make sure if she does ever fall in the pool she will be able to swim enough to get herself out. Thank you for sharing this. Luckily my 2 cats have no desire to go outside(anymore) so I don't have to worry about it.
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this, thank you. <br> <br>I'd love to be able to get our cats to the point of really loving swimming, like so many dogs do. Tigers and some other large cats naturally swim, see http://www.wimp.com/tigerspark . <br> <br>You have some lucky cats, nice job!
The last picture is brilliant, Sassy's face says all... I can almost hear her thoughts &quot;What the h*** is going on?!&quot;
Really?! Because what I read in her eyes is more on the vicinity of &quot;MAMA!!!&quot; :-)
You, sir, is the bravest cat owner I know. I'll save this for future reference (I have 9 cats, but we don't have a pool. Maybe I can start with an inflatable one).
First try the bathtub. Maybe with just one or two inches of water. Let them investigate and see if any are willing to get in. If they have a favorite treat, put it on a plastic plate that can float in the tub. They will have to get in to get to the treat. <br> <br>If you have a WalMart or Target near you, get a plastic kids pool, this way the kitty claws won't be able to puncture it.
Yeah, I was worried about the inflatable and it's prone-ness (is there such a word?) to punctures. <br><br>I don't have a bathtub, but I think I have a plastic tub somewhere here that my little cousin used before. Thanks!
What a brilliant instructable! Thank you rsmaudsley, I can tell you really love your cats. <br>I came across these instructions as I'm looking for information about cats and their swimming habits and instincts, I will soon be moving aboard a narrowboat (a canal boat, very common here in the UK), it will be a huge transition for my cat who is 2 years old and has lived always indoors, more than the swimming it worries me that she won't find a way out of the water, let's see how it goes!
I think one of the other contributors here lives on a river boat. I would definitely make sure your cat is comfortable around water. i would start now using a bathtub with a a few CM of water to start. Put their food in on a floating plate so they have to go in to the water to get the food. <br> <br>Look in http://www.gamma2.net/skamper-ramp.htm and see if it is something you could use where you will be living. You may also want to see about building a floating dock that basically just floats on top of the water and surround your boat with it. The cat will likely swim towards the boat if it fall in to the water. PM my in private, I have some ideas that would make it easy for you cat to get out of the water.
Amazing instructable! Very funny, too. Yes, it does pay to be careful which cats are trained. I would suggest that very young cats (not kittens, however) may be more amenable, especially if the water is quite warm, as also the weather, and a nice sunny spot with warm bricks and without breeze to dry off in. I had a pair of Abassynians that loved water, and would actively hop into the bath with me. They were a bit demented. They also loved chasing streams of water from the garden hose all over the back yard until sopping wet. <br> <br>Water training cats isn't as crazy as it might first seem. My last cat (Bill Clinton III) was very nearly 18 years old when he died. He needed occasional baths when he was unwell and not grooming himself properly. Getting him used to water earlier would've been better. He definitely minded the hotter water a lot less than cooler or tepid water! <br> <br>Yes, an emergency cat-ladder is highly recommended, even in empty pools esp. if you are going away, unless you have good stairs all the way from the bottom to the top that an injured animal could climb.
The one advantage with Sassy is she is very treat motivated, more than some dogs I know. And with the right motivation you can get a cat to do just about anything. <br>I have another cat that is leash trained. His motivation was the ability to go outside and meet people. He loved going in to the kiddy area at a nearby park. it was enclosed with a 3ft fence, so I could let him off-leash and he'd just hang out and play with the kids.
I wouldn't be able to go in a pool with my Lucy unless I was wearing a suit of armor. You are one brave cat daddy!
Sassy is an awesome cat. She's actually pretty good about letting me introduce her to new things. She's pretty tolerant of what anyone does to her, short of actually hurting her.
I would love to see a video of this. even put some incentive in there so the cat jumps in a swims on her own to get it. that would be cool.
Sassy is HIGHLY treat motivated. I will be working with her in the summer to see if I can get her to go in on her own.
I'd just like to add my two cents. I agree that the main point is reducing the fear, not teaching how to swim. A kind of exposure therapy, if you will. And it seems very clear to me that you wouldn't have attempted this if the cat had a different temperament and/or didn't trust you and freaked out. <br> <br>I'd like to share my story. I live in a floating home, in a marina. While I never wanted either of my two cats to have to learn to swim, a few times they have fallen in and managed to get out almost as soon as they hit the water. I figure it was pure adrenalin! (The fight or flight response). <br> <br>The river has almost zero visibility (silty) and a strong current and it scared the heck out of me. Btw, I was outside with them, and they'd be out before I got to them. <br> <br>The only time I got really worried about them becoming tired, was when Peanut actually jumped into the water because an off leash dog was charging towards her and she was too scared to come out! You can bet I had words with the dog owner! <br> <br>After each time they fell in, it would take them about 2 hours to thoroughly clean every inch of themselves, even when I tried to towel most of the water off. <br> <br>If I fell in, I don't think I'd have the strength to pull myself out without a ladder or help! Despite the adrenalin rush! <br> <br>Also, I thought there were bylaws that you needed to have a fence with a self closing gate between your house ans your pool, but maybe not where you are. Just sayin', not judging.

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