OK, smartie-pants. You think all cats hate water?
It’s actually not true. Some of them don’t mind being in water — and a few cats even love swimming.
Below, we’ll take a quick look at some of these swimming cats.
10 Cat Breeds That Like Swimming
Here are some of the domestic cats who have a strong liking for water and swimming:
1. Turkish Van
The Turkish Van, an elegant white cat with red facial markings and a bushy red tail, also goes by the nickname “the swimming cat.”
According to legend, the Turkish Van hopped off Noah’s Ark once the flooding was over and swam ashore, not bothering to wait for Noah and the others.
It’s a funny story, but the Turkish Van actually shows up officially in a 1955 account: Two cat-loving tourists happened upon some Turkish Angora–like cats swimming in Lake Van in Turkey.
“These cats could not only swim, they appeared to enjoy the water,” wrote Gloria Stephens, a licensed all-breed judge and expert on cat genetics, in the book Legacy of the Cat. “Intrigued, the fanciers obtained a pair and returned with them to England.”
Turkish Vans “will swim or just lie in the water,” according to the ASPCA, which adds that this is “most unusual for a cat.”
2. Turkish Angora
Much like their Turkish Van cousins, Turkish Angoras are an ancient cat breed.
The Cat Fanciers’ Association calls Turkish Angoras “rare and beautiful,” as well as “one of the most outgoing and affectionate of all cat breeds.”
Arden Moore, a pet behavior consultant, says Turkish Angoras are among the cat breeds that love swimming and playing in water.
“Indoor TAs will fight boredom by splashing water out of a sink and hopping in the shower with you,” Moore explains. “And when they hear the sound of water, they will come running. Some outdoor TAs have been known to paddle around in ponds and shallow streams.”
A Savannah is a designer cat breed. It’s a mix between an exotic African Serval and a domestic cat.
One person with a Savannah named Loki shares that “Loki loves the water. Bath tub, sinks, water bowls — it’s all fair game.” This water-loving Savannah cat also gets to play regularly in kiddie pools outside.
Olga Khazanovska, a Savannah breeder in McHenry, Illinois, agrees that these cats generally love swimming. “Many Savannahs prefer splashing around in water over other toys,” she says.
The Bengal is a hybrid of a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat, a small wild cat.
The creator of the modern Bengal cat breed, Jean Mill, said these cats love water. In her Guide to Owning a Bengal Cat, she wrote, “If allowed into the garden (under supervision, of course), Bengals will often play in the sprinkler or a running hose.”
Vetstreet’s Arden Moore agrees. “Don’t bother closing the bathroom door,” she says, “because Bengals hate being shut out of fun and will either figure out how to paw open the door or yowl until you concede and let them in.”
5. American Bobtail
American Bobtails are native to North America and resemble wild cats because of their almond-shaped eyes.
“It is a well-muscled, solid cat with the power and grace of an athlete,” according to The International Cat Association.
Their short, stubby tails “wag” according to their moods, and American Bobtails are quite intelligent. You can teach them to walk on a leash, play fetch and hide-and-seek, and perform other tricks.
Some people say their playful, friendly American Bobtails act more like dogs than cats by coming when called or following them around.
6. Japanese Bobtail
The Cat Fanciers’ Association says the Japanese Bobtail can best be described as having a personality that is “full of energy, always playful, loving, endearing and happy.” Let’s also add that many of these cats love to swim.
“They are active and affectionate cats that bond closely with their people, and many owners have shared stories about their love of water,” says IHeartCats.
Like Japanese Bobtails, Manx cats are island-born, so water is a familiar element to them.
There’s a lot of speculation about Manx cats being brought over from England or Wales a few hundred years ago, although the Isle of Man is usually where people say they originated.
Pet wellness advocate Tracie Hotchner, in her acclaimed The Cat Bible, says, “Many purebred Manx cats have a special affinity for water.”
“Most cats hate water, but Manx cats like swimming,” agrees Sara Goodwins, author of A De-tailed Account of Manx Cats and herself a resident of the Isle of Man.
Abyssinians are among the oldest domesticated cat breeds, and they still grace many homes with their regal appearance and silly antics.
They are affectionate, people-oriented cats who are close to their family members and are often following people around or in their face, being inquisitive.
According to author Gladys Taber, the Abyssinian “is said to have been the fishing cat of the ancient Egyptians 4,000 years ago.”
9. Maine Coon
The Maine Coon has a long history as a ship’s cat in New England, where it’s still a popular breed.
“Around water,” says Vetstreet’s Moore, don’t be surprised to find the Maine Coon “scooping water with his front paws to quench his thirst or dunking his favorite toys in his water bowl.”
In fact, she says, “savvy Maine Coon owners have learned to park the water bowl inside a larger, high-sided container like an empty litter box.”
A 5-year-old Maine Coon named Tissy made the national news in 2019 because of her love for swimming — which she does once a week in the family pool.
“People say it’s crazy, but she’s just a laid-back cat that loves to swim,” says Sonny Herr.
10. Norwegian Forest Cat
Like the Maine Coon, these big, fluffy cousins both have double-layered water-repellent coats.
“Weggies,” as the cats are known, have a water-resistant double coat protects them from cold winters.
What About Tigers, Jaguars, Lions and Leopards?
Now you might be wondering about some of the domestic cat’s bigger and wilder cousins: Which ones like swimming?
- Tigers, ocelots and jaguars are excellent swimmers. In fact, jaguars rely on rivers for much of their prey.
- What about lions and leopards — do they swim? Yes, these animals also swim at times, but they tend to be wary of crocodiles and other river-dwelling predators.
The most intriguing feline swimmer, though?
Paws down, that would be the fishing cat.
A native of South and Southeast Asia, the fishing cat “has webbing between its toes and partly protruding toes which help it to catch fish,” explain Mike and Peggy Briggs in their book Spirit of the Wild Cat.
The fishing cat “will even dive in pursuit of prey, sometimes swimming underwater to snatch unsuspecting waterfowl from below by their legs,” they explain. The cat also has a water-repellent coat.
In 1996, keepers at the San Diego Zoo found themselves having to train 3 baby fishing cats who had been rejected by their mother. The kittens took to the water without hesitation. Learning to catch fish took them a little longer, but not much.
Some Cats Swim — But Many Don’t
Nathan the Beach Cat has been making a name for herself — not just in her native Australia but also internationally.
“I wandered into the water and there, splashing at my legs, was Nathan, who had followed us out there,” says Rian Crandon. “She just kept following us out further and further, and now she swims.”
The important thing to remember is that swimming was the cat’s choice — she didn’t just get flung off the pier and into the water.
As Laura Moss points out in her book Adventure Cats, “Forcing your cat into water could be traumatic and make her fearful of it, the outdoors or even you.”
“If your cat encounters water either at home or on the trail, it’s best to simply let her natural curiosity lead her to the water’s edge … then let her decide if she wants to get her paws wet.”