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.
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.
Step 2: Comfort and calm the cat once in the water.
Use whatever petting stroke, or other type of touch that calms your cat. Stay in the position until your cat is calm in your arms and does not appear to be bothered by the water.
Step 3: OUCH! What to do if the cat tries to escape.
Don't be tempted to pull the cat from your body or you will have some nasty scratches. The easiest way to resolve this is to simply kneel down so your body is under water while holding the cat out of the water. The cat will let go. Immediately come back up and cradle the cat in the comforting position you used in the previous step.
This was an unplanned step so the photographer didn't get the picture of me underwater while holding the cat out of the water. Yes, that is a grimace of pain on my face
Step 4: Let the cat get use to the water.
Step 5: Start getting the cat to swim
At first, the paddling will probably be awkward and not good for actual swimming. So continue supporting the cat above the water but hold very loosely. Look for the legs to extend as far as possible and look for the paws to be expanded.
Step 6: Teaching the cat how to turn while swimming.
Step 7: Let the cat swim, but not get away
So why do this? To make her swim stronger. naturally the cat will want to leave the pool. Point her towards the edge, but lightly hold on so she can swim, but not get away. In my case, Sassy was swimming very strongly and looking like she's been a water cat her whole life.
Step 8: Let the cat go.
Give the kitty some love, point her towards the edge of the pool and let her go.
I've had Sassy in the pool a couple of times. Although she hasn't, and probably never will go in on her own, she doesn't seem too bothered when I take her in.
Again, I want to emphasize that not all cats can be brought in to a pool. I have six cats and there are only two that will go in the water. Well, one of them will actually just sit on a boogie board while it's floating.
Just know that Sassy is an unusually adventurous and brave cat. So teaching your cat to swim may not be something you can do. You will have to use your own judgement if you think it can be done.