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In general, cats aren’t water babies, apart from a few specific breeds that actually like water, but hydrotherapy (also known as aqua therapy) can be a blessing when dealing with a number of feline health issues.
How Does Hydrotherapy Work?
Hydrotherapy is a form of physical therapy in water that’s used for humans, dogs and even cats. The idea behind it is that water offers resistance, while supporting the body, so it’s a gentle physical therapy that doesn’t put too much pressure on bones, joints or organs, as well as building strength and endurance. If you’re considering hydrotherapy for your cat, it’s best to get a referral through your vet, and in fact some vets may even offer the service themselves. Your cat will be immersed in a hydrotherapy pool, which will either be an underwater treadmill that lets him ‘walk’ in the water, or be held in a harness that allows him to ‘swim’.
How Hydrotherapy Can Help Your Cat
There are a number of health issues that hydrotherapy is beneficial for including:
As hydrotherapy increases flexibility while being kind to arthritic joints, it’s an ideal therapy for cats with arthritis. A cat with arthritis might be forced to limit their own exercise because of the pain and discomfort it gives them, so hydrotherapy is a gentle way to get some valuable exercise and stop your cat from gaining weight.
2. Weight ProblemsWhether your cat’s weight problem is caused by an injury, an illness or he’s just a little too fond of his food, hydrotherapy is a great way to start his weight loss journey. Overweight and obese cats can struggle when they first start exercising, just like us, but hydrotherapy is a gentle and effective way to exercise.
3. Surgery, Neurological Injury or Accident
If your cat has suffered from some kind of accident or neurological injury, or has just had invasive surgery, he’ll usually need some form of physiotherapy to help him get back into peak condition. However, he’s likely to be sore and delicate, and might struggle with the normal physiotherapy that’s essential for a full recovery, so hydrotherapy makes the process easier and less painful for him. If he’s fractured a bone or damaged a tendon, the water makes movement less painful and it helps to reduce any swelling around the area. Being put into water might freak him out at first, but once he gets used to it, it’s so gentle that it can prevent further injury to the affected areas.
Watch the YouTube video below to see how Mog the tabby cat adapted to swimming lessons after being hit by a car and suffering serious nerve damage in his front legs.
4. Circulation Problems
The warm water of a hydrotherapy pool increases your cat’s blood circulation, so if he’s having circulation problems hydrotherapy is a great treatment. The boost in his circulation will also help to relax tense muscles and reduce any swelling.
5. Depression and Mental Health Issues
Just as exercise helps us humans to cope with depression and mental health issues, hydrotherapy is a moderate form of exercise that will help to boost the feel-good chemicals in your cat’s brain and improve his overall health
Have you tried hydrotherapy for your cat? Would you consider it for your cat? Please share your thoughts below…
Top image:via Wikimedia Commons.
Paula Williams says
Hydrotherapy have so many health benefits. From our joint, relaxing our muscles, and even relieving pain. It actually helps human, but it does helps with cats and even dogs.
Traveling Cats says
I heard about hydrotherapy before, but didn’t know the specifics. Wish I knew about it before so I could have used it to improve my cat’s health.
Very cool! This could be good for me as I get older to care for my stump. – Crepes.
That’s fascinating! Moosey likes water, but I’m not sure he’d want to do hydrotherapy…
Layla Morgan Wilde (Cat Wisdom 101) says
Hydrotherapy is becoming more popular in the U.S. for dogs but I have yet to see a cat receive treatment. I’d lean towards Reiki or acupuncture first.
Sharon S. says
I’m glad hydrotherapy was able to help this cat. I’m not sure if any of my three guys would be brave enough to get in the water.
Wow – I knew that water therapy was good for dogs – all of our dogs have given it a try, but I never heard of it for cats. This is great…if you can get them in the water!
The Island Cats says
Ernie’s rehabilitation vet uses hydrotherapy but mostly on dogs. She does have one or two cats that get it. Ernie has not…he’s had acupuncture and laser therapy though.
Kitty Cat Chronicles says
Very neat! Thanks for sharing this information. 3 of our 5 don’t mind water too much. They don’t seek it out or like it, but they tolerate it. The other two?! Noooo way! Hopefully I’ll never have to do this with any of mine, but it’s good to know it exists.
Kitties Blue says
Absolutely had no idea that hydrotherapy existed for cats. This was a terrific video. Thank you for sharing this excellent information.
The Swiss Cats says
Amazing ! That cat is fairly relaxed in the water and in the bubbles ! If the cat can stand it, it’s a nice therapy ! Purrs
Golden Woofs: Sugar says
Interesting … Sugar swims in a hydrotherapy pool. I was not familiar cats can go too.
Cathy Connolly says
Great option!! Thank you for sharing this. Our girl Princess Lily hates water, since she was very young. When she was a few months old, mom was running bath water annnnnndddddd, she decided to jump in the bathtub when I left the room. I felt so bad because she was so shocked, now she checks very carefully before jumping in the bathtub.
Victoria Carter says
I did not know that this was even an option for cats! Good to know since I may need it for Belle, she has a torn ACL, but currently is doing fine with pain management and joint supplements, but there may be a day we need to talk to about surgery and subsequent PT.
Wow, that’s interesting! Although while I’m not totally adverse to water, I hope I never have to try it!
Alternative therapies like this are always good to try so as long as the cat is relaxed enough about the water I would try it. But if there was too much stress, it wouldn’t help or could make things worse!