feral who fled across a river to avoid being rescued by the RSPCA, this story is about a cat whose aquatic antics are hastening his recovery from a tragic accident.
Tootsie, a 2-year-old black cat, was hit by a car and left for dead by the side of the road. His caretaker, Sue Wilson, rushed him to the vet, where she was told that her feline friend was unlikely to recover from his injuries and that the most humane thing to do would be to have him euthanized.
Wilson refused to give up on Tootsie. She asked what else could be done for her beloved cat, whose right front leg had been shattered.
The vets gave her a surprising answer: hydrotherapy.
“My initial thought was ‘Cats can’t swim,’ but I was assured it would do him good,” Wilson said.
She took Tootsie to the Hydrocare Centre in Hereford, England, where he began his treatment program of daily swims in a 2-foot-deep pet hydrotherapy pool.
The cat took to his treatment right away. Helen White, a partner at the center, said Tootsie swam naturally from the minute he got in the water.
His therapy began with 90-second swims while wearing a harness that allowed White to easily get him into and out of the pool. The gentle exercise built up Tootsie’s muscle strength without putting excessive pressure on his damaged leg.
Now, after six weeks of daily treatments, the cat swims without a safety rope or harness for 20 minutes at a time. He’s even learned to kick off the side of the pool to give himself extra momentum.
Tootsie’s recovery is almost complete. The only reminder of his almost-lethal run-in with a car is a slight limp. He’s back home and is even being allowed to take small strolls in Wilson’s backyard.
Although Tootsie is the first cat ever to use the Hereford hydrotherapy center, he’s not the first British cat to benefit from the water treatment.
Earlier this year, a Cornwall cat named Mog, another victim of a hit-and-run driver, began using a hydrotherapy pool in hopes that he could recover the use of his front legs, which had suffered severe nerve damage in the accident.
Mog, too, has made a big improvement as a result of his treatment — although he still has a ways to go before he’s fully recovered.