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.