When a Watford couple told their vet they were going to treat their cat’s broken leg with swimming lessons he "almost killed himself laughing", however the unorthodox therapy has proved just the ticket.
Ra, an Egyptian Mau, had an accident last October and fractured his left femur.
The nasty break was repaired and the animal's leg was saved by surgeons at Medivet in Watford and they referred Ra for hydrotherapy.
The rare breed has been attending hsessions at Theravet, in The Common, Chipperfield, for the last two months.
Ra’s owner, Barry Peterson, said: "We would do absolutely anything for him. Ra has got the personality. He’s unreal and so funny. After his accident last year he really hurt his leg, he could hardly move and was dragging the limb along behind him.
"The therapy has been so helpful, anyone who has a pet with an injury should do hydrotherapy. He wouldn’t be where he is today without their help. It’s been amazing. He’s quite happy here and the vet is like another home for him."
Emma Vigor Craigie-Halkett and Rebecca Maffia have been treating Ra.
Ms Maffia said: "He is our first cat here. Most people think cats don’t like to swim, but I think we have proved that some cats can be trained to."
Hydrotherapy is a non weight bearing form of physiotherapy. It allows gentle exercise of the limbs in a non-weight bearing environment, allowing joints and soft tissues to mobilise within a greater normal range of motion.
It is more comfortable for the patient because they do not have to support their own bodyweight.
Mr Peterson’s wife, Pam, said: "When we told our vet we were going to take Ra for swimming lessons he almost killed himself laughing. He couldn’t believe that it would work and that Ra wouldn’t absolutely hate it."
Ra has been swimming at the pool for two months and wears a buoyancy aid during sessions. Afterwards, he is shampooed, conditioned and towel tried, and then wrapped up in a jumper, hand knitted by Mrs Peterson.
Emma Vigor Craigie-Halkett said: "When we first put him in the pool he automatically knew what to do but he was obviously cautious because cats are not at all used to being in water.
"We do the therapy on quite a lot of dogs but Ra is our only cat. Now though, he’s very at home in the water and although he’s still quite vocal he seems to really enjoy himself."
She added: "While hydrotherapy is helping Ra back to fitness, Medivet did a fantastic job in mending the break. ra is a success story for all of us."