The notion that domestic cats can be “at one with the water” seems like crazy talk. But the truth is, there are a number of cat breeds that will actively seek out bodies of water in which to swim or bathe. Maine Coons are one of these.
So, just when we thought that Maine Coons couldn’t get any cooler, along comes this game changer! Let’s talk about the reasons why this is great for all us Maine Coon (and cats in general) lovers.
It’s worth checking this little video out. A Maine Coon kitten quite instinctively isn’t afraid of the water.
Let’s go back a while, ‘9,000 years ago’ to be precise. The Ancient Egyptians, who were even more fond of cats than present day humans are, took cats aboard their fishing rafts to catch birds.
The cat’s agility, adaptability and the fact they are natural hunters, made them perfect companions.The Vikings also agreed. They took cats aboard their longboats to catch mice and rats. As did western ships travelling around the globe.
A DNA study conducted in 2017 of our feline friends, found that the origin of the domestic cat was spurred along by sailing ships. During the Age of Discovery in the 15th through 18th centuries, cats would jump aboard these ships and then travel far and wide across to new countries.
They weren’t cautious of the sea back then and being on a sailing ship was like second nature to them, which is most likely the reason that a lot of cats have waterproof fur. That’s right, water and boats, two things we’d never associate with modern cats, played a key role in their evolution. It was commonplace for western naval, exploration trading ships to have a “ship’s cat” to hunt mice and rats.
The cat would also provide comfort to the crew, reminding them and giving them a sense of “home”.
There are quite a few stories of famous seafaring cats throughout the 1900s. One in particular was Blackie, who sailed alongside Winston Churchill, Prime Minister at the time, on the HMS Prince of Wales. Blackie even survived its sinking at the hands of the Japanese. He was later renamed Churchill.
Although cats stopped appearing on naval ships in 1975 on hygiene grounds, many private trade ships and leisure boats/yachts still honour the tradition to this day.
Maine Coons have a very thick undercoat which allows the water to flow through their fur as they swim, yet makes it tough for the water to come into contact directly with their skin. This also means they don’t lose too much body heat whilst in water. Coupled with a genuine desire to be with water and a natural ability to not be afraid of it is intrinsic to the breed.
Although I’m tempted to shout everyone at the top of my lungs, I have to be more specific unfortunately. So here we go.
The most glaringly obvious benefit was just reinforced in the last section. People who own a boat.
For you lucky private boat or yacht owners out there, regardless if you have a commercial or leisure vessel, a Maine Coon is a must have addition.
They are exceptional hunters, fantastic swimmers and have a waterproof coat. So, you’re getting the best of everything. A vermin-free vessel, companionship and peace of mind knowing that your cat can handle itself if it does fall into the water.
If you are an avid cruise-goer, just remember to check what the company policy is on taking pets onboard.
Domestic pools are quite common in the USA, Australia and almost every other English speaking country except the UK. Not that I’m bitter.
But, this is great news for any overprotective cat owners that are worried their cat is going to run head first into their outdoor pool.
Knowing that they’d be able to swim around the pool and hopefully find a way out, will put your mind at ease should your cat ever go outside and near your pool area on their own.
Whilst cats have an instinctive ability to swim, it’s still good to take precautions if they’re not strong swimmers.
You could ‘cat-proof’ your pool by having a gate around the perimeter. This may be a bit tricky though due to their well known ability to jump quite high! Pulling over the pool cover when it’s not in use will also help curb their enthusiasm to have a quick paddle.
For extra precaution, spending time getting your cat used to water will help.
You can see below, ways to allow your Maine Coon to become a bit more water friendly, just as their ancestors once were.
For example, check this out;
As with all species, gaining a reward for doing something they don’t particularly like, is a great incentive. Although cats are able to swim, some may be more cautious of it than others.
Using treats and toys around water is a great way to build their confidence. Starting off by playing with toys around shallow water, maybe even the bath will allow your cat to associate water with a positive experience.
You could then steadily increase the depth at intervals, their instincts should kick in pretty quickly should they need to swim.
If you have a pool, letting them have a swim around in your bath first is a easy way to gauge how good of a swimmer they are.
Fill your bath enough for them to be able to swim rather than paddle, and be on hand so they know that you’re there to get them out should they need it. They may just love it and want to spend the afternoon having a relaxing float around!
A bit like this lady did;
Cats are inquisitive creatures and if they’re finally allowed outside after growing up for a few months indoors, they will want to go and explore their surroundings.
If you have a pool or any large bodies of water nearby, support them while they investigate. If they haven’t grown up around water, they’ll initially be wary. But this is a good thing and should help put your mind at rest. Unless a cat is completely confident around water, I don’t think you’d ever see one doing a running jump into a swimming pool without caution!
Overall, swimming is a part of a cat’s ancestry. Some may be better at it than others but over time you can help build this confidence for them. And you never know, you may have a little water baby on your hands!