Feline Hydrotherapy

I’ve been a fan of debunking commonly-held feline myths, but today I’ve got a story that actually adheres to two well-known cat proverbs: curiosity killed the cat, and cats have nine lives. The two often go hand-in-hand, as it’s a cat’s never-ending curiosity that usually gets it into situations it narrowly escapes.

Now the New York Post has an article about a cat in the Big Apple who worked at saving one of its lives by fighting another cat myth: that cats hate water. Nazzaning, a six-year-old Turkish Van, found herself partially paralyzed by a spinal cord injury. Her owner Florence Rostami originally thought Nazzaning had a broken paw, but learned at the veterinary hospital that the cat had actually somehow injured her spinal cord.

Then Nazzaning’s doctors recommended a very unusual treatment, or at least, one many would consider crazy for a cat: physical therapy in water. Rostami was willing to try anything to help Nazzaning, so they proceeded to the Water 4 Dogs animal clinic in Lower Manhattan.

Sessions started off with therapist John Larson carrying Nazzaning through 92-degree water. The warm water temperature keeps the animals comfortable, and Larson carried the cat to keep her from getting her head wet, something that he feared might cause Nazzaning to flip out.

Hydrotherapy for such injuries is usually only recommended for humans or dogs because of most cats’ aversion to water. The article does not specify why Nazzaning’s vets recommended it for her. Perhaps they thought it was her best chance, or perhaps it was because of her breed.

Of all the feline breeds, Turkish Vans are those cats most associated with water. Turkish Van site swimmingcats.com says that while not all Turkish Vans want to go for a dip, instead preferring just to pop in and out of the shower or play in water bowls, the breed is known for enjoying swims in shallow water.

So Nazzaning may very well have her heritage to thank for looking after one of her nine lives. But even more she has to thank her owner, Rostami, for sparing no expense to look after her.

As one may have guessed, pet hydrotherapy doesn’t come cheap. Rostami paid $160 for each hydrotherapy session. Between that and the overall vet bills, Rostami says the cost is comparable to those of her own physical therapy sessions for a major foot surgery she had months before.

But we animal lovers around here on the pets blog certainly sympathize with Rostami’s willingness to do anything to help her pet. And the expense has certainly paid off; now Nazzaning is back to dashing around the house just like she always did.

In addition to being a heartwarming animal story, Nazzaning’s tale also works as some good pet health information. I’m glad to know more about the options available should my cat ever injure himself in such a way; and as I’ve mentioned before, I’m far more likely to get kitty Cole in the water for hydrotherapy than my dog Chihiro.

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