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My cat Rosie (female, age 8) likes to drink out of our swimming pool. This has apparently been going on for a while, but I just found out yesterday.

Given the following:

  • She prefers to drink water from a specific area of the pool, one that happens to not be near the filter or the water jets.
  • There is no ladder or stepwell in the pool (we just climb out from the shallow end).
    • There is a mount for a ladder, but it's not near where Rosie drinks water.
  • The pool liner is brand-new and the water is clean.
  • I don't know what we use to treat the water (but I can find out).
  • Rosie is perfectly healthy.

I have these questions:

  • Will the pool water give our cat any health problems?
  • If Rosie falls in, will she be able to get out?
  • If she falls in, can she damage our pool liner?
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  • Will the pool water give our cat any health problems?

    Most likely not. If the water is clean and you're not using an excessive amount of chemicals (like chlorine), there shouldn't be any problem. If in doubt, you can confirm with your vet, potentially even bringing a water probe, but I think this would be exaggerating the whole thing. As long as your cat is behaving normal, don't worry too much about it. Tapped water is treated as well and never really clean (the latter being even more true for rain water). Yet we usually make it "pet friendly" for aquarium dwellers only (who have to live in there, not just drink it).

  • If Rosie falls in, will she be able to get out?

    That's something we can't tell without knowing your pool specifically. You should ensure there's some way for your cat to get out (and she somewhat knows that). Remember that the cat won't be able to jump from the water without touching the ground.

  • If she falls in, can she damage our pool liner?

    Similar to the other question, this heavily depends on how your pool is constructed. (But I really hope that's least of your worries. :)) Usually the materials used are rather durable, but if the cat is in panic and there's something soft to be damaged, I could imagine the cat potentially damaging that unintentionally, while trying to get out of the water.

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You wind up unintentionally taking in some of that water every time you swim. It isn't exactly up to potable-water standards, but it's better than the puddles your cat is also drinking from when you aren't watching. Don't worry about it from that point of view.

Do try to make sure that if the cat actually falls into the pool there's a place where she can get back out. I've seen squirrels drown because there was no place in a pool where they could rest and/or spring high enough from to get past the edge.

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Chlorinated water from swimming pools can cause minor GI irritations, but only in cases where your cat has a sensitive stomach already. In general chlorinated water is effective at preventing and in some cases removing GI parasites. It is all about the concentration really. Here in the middle east cats have "evolved" to drink increasingly from swimming pools now. I didn't used to see it much, but now I see it constantly. Equally there are more pools now and so it would seem they have just learned that they can drink from it. In some cases, cats almost exclusively drink from pools. Often you will see a cat drinking from a water bowl and then immediately after go to a swimming pool and drink.

Equally, cats are able to handle salt a lot better than a lot of people think. And I include a lot of vets in this too. I also know this to be true because I live here and I've seen cats handling salty sea water for 40 years. They are pretty good at handling it. And yes, of course, they do need fresh water too. But in this case, it also means a salt-water pool is not an issue for them.

My swimming pool has an elevated edge, around 10cm/4 inches higher than the water level...up to 20cm if the water level is low. Adult cats jump right on out. Kittens...not so easily.

I don't know about your pool liner, but mine is very thick PVC...no way a cat can rip it with its claws. Maybe if the cat learns to use a hammer and a chisel...

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