Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can British Shorthair Cats Swim? Do They Like Water?

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 1, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

british shorthair cat taking a bath

Can British Shorthair Cats Swim? Do They Like Water?

British Shorthair cats are recognized by their rounded cheeks and thick, soft fur. They are round and more heavy-set than some other breeds, and you might wonder whether or not they can swim. The answer is yes; most British Shorthairs can swim. Swimming is instinctual in cats; they will not swim by choice, but if faced with a situation where they are at risk of drowning, British Shorthair cats can swim effectively enough to get themselves out of danger.

They can swim safely but aren’t strong swimmers since they aren’t built for it. They often get tired out against strong currents or deep water, so always protect your cat around any bodies of water, such as pools, ponds, or rivers.

3 cat face divider

Do British Shorthair Cats Like Water?

It’s true that most cats don’t like water. However, some breeds, including the British Shorthair, are more inclined to enjoy it. They are known to love and be fascinated by movement, including that of running water. This means that flowing water or a dripping tap may make them more likely to explore it, but there is no real way to definitively say whether your British Shorthair cat will like water.

Some individuals will be hypnotized by the movement of water and won’t be able to resist having a dip, but others will run when a tiny drop touches them. How well a cat takes to water is often determined by how they were socialized to it as a kitten.

british shorthair
Image Credit: FotoMirta, Shutterstock

What Should I Do if My British Shorthair Cat Gets Into Water?

British Shorthair cats have dense fur, which can protect them from getting cold, but they will still get waterlogged quickly. If your British Shorthair falls into the water, pull them out as quickly as possible. Immediately dry them with a soft, warm towel and reassure them. Your cat will likely be incredibly stressed, so they need to be placed in a stress-free environment that’s warm, calm, and quiet.

Observe your cat closely following a fall into the water, particularly watching their breathing and general demeanor. Some cats will recover quickly from a potentially traumatizing event, but some will hide away and may not come out for food or to play. Providing your British Shorthair with a safe space with their litter box, food, and water bowls close to hand can help keep them comfortable if they don’t want to come out of hiding, but make sure you can regularly assess their breathing.

Inhaling water, especially pond or pool water, can cause aspiration pneumonia, which can be fatal if not treated.

Signs of aspiration pneumonia to watch out for include:
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased heart rate
  • Green or yellow nasal discharge (snot)
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Lethargy
  • Respiratory distress and open-mouth breathing

This means that bacteria in the water your cat has fallen into has traveled to their lungs via inhaled water. Once it takes hold, it can cause an infection that restricts breathing. Take your cat to the vet if it experiences any signs of pneumonia.

Can I Get My British Shorthair to Enjoy Water?

Many cats are afraid of water as they are not exposed to it early in life. So, there is no reason to get your cat acquainted with water generally, and they’ll only need bathing if they’re very dirty or they come into contact with toxic or harmful substances.

However, if you want to introduce your cat to water, you should do so slowly and go at their pace. You can introduce them to water by using toys in a tray of water or letting them sit in the bathroom when you’re bathing. If they show interest, you can explore dripping showers or tiny amounts of warm water in the bath. Some British Shorthair cats will take to this immediately, but some might need more time to adjust.

It’s important to remember never to force your cat into water or drop them into a full bath; this will traumatize them and can cause lasting behavioral and physical issues in the future.

Image Credit: Zulkarnieiev Denis, Shutterstock

cat paw divider

Final Thoughts

British Shorthairs are known for being inquisitive creatures that often aren’t afraid of playing with water. However, many cats don’t like getting wet or going into the water, as they’re not socialized to it as kittens.

Observing your cat’s behavior and noting any curiosity towards water is a good indicator of whether you could start introducing them to it, such as introducing a shallow water tray or a dripping shower. You may find that your British Shorthair loves water; it is not unheard of, as these cats can let their inquisitiveness guide them!

Featured Image Credit; Zulkarnieiev Denis, Shutterstock

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.