Grieving Cat’s Aquatic PetMassage is Transformative

I just facilitated an in-hand swim session in the PetMassage heated indoor hydrotherapy pool…with Chloe…a cat.

Chloe’s mom was nervous, apprehensive about putting her kitty in water. Naturally.

For Chloe it was a very new experience, as it would be for most house-cats. Like most cats, she had never swum before. What Chloe shared with me was revelatory. It pointed out a potentially big reason for creating the hydrotherapy pool for pets.

Chloe is smart; she might say that compared to all the other cats she’s known, she’s brilliant. She’s also spiritually evolved. Naturally, that comes with being a cat.

And, like all cats, she craves stimulation. Adventure. As an indoor cat she’s figured out ways to experience the thrill of the hunt. She’s mastered the sneak, the stalk, the ankle ambush, the chase, the nuanced (tail curl and flip) and the extremes, like the arched hiss and the faux-frightened leap to the side.

As I carried her around in the pool she looked around and asked through her widened eyes and flattened ears, “How stimulated do you think we are perched on the backs of sofas, watching birds outside the window? How satisfied would you be, if that was all the intellectual stimulation you had?”

I thought about the intellectual stagnation I felt last year when we were all sheltering in place. It was stifling. I leapt at any excuse to get out and participate in life outside-the-house.

I recalled a walking tutorial I had back when I was in college, with another art student from Cincinnati whose gift was/is visual perception. I was directed to focus my attention on the intricate shapes, patterns, and combinations of colors in random objects around us. With every twig, stone and blade of grass I picked up, each cloud I watched, I appreciated, honored and deeply connected with their aesthetics and qualities (Kami spirits). I had defined myself as an artist. I knew how to look. In that one 20-minute walk, that sunny Spring afternoon, my abilities to perceive deepened. With this fundamentally transformative lesson, the world I knew shifted. I learned to see.

Chloe recently lost her best cat friend. They’d been together since kittens. She is in grieving mode. Since her housemate’s passing last August, she requests more time with her people, she’s lost weight, has a compromised immune system, and presents other signs of depression.

My sense is that she’s been stuck in a loop. She thinks about her companion and the emptiness and loneliness she feels since he left. It’s her only cognitive topic; because, nothing new has been presented that can refill that emotional space in her heart.

That changed today. Chloe had her 1st swim/Aquatic PetMassage session and she did wonderfully. It was an enrichment activity that worked her body, mind and spirit. Chloe got to experience something new and exciting.

After her brief session, still wrapped in her towel, she softened her gaze, and appeared to be looking inward. We could tell that she was processing what she’d just done. Then, pleased with her bravery and success, she calmly began grooming her paws.

Chloe is no longer the same cat who was wheeled into the PetMassage reception room in a shrouded baby carriage. She is now a cat who knows she is a master at overcoming apprehension, of remembering that she’s a swimmer, of trusting me, a stranger, to hold her safe while her mundane world confuses and expands. Her breadth of worldly experiences now includes everything she gained in her Aquatic PetMassage. New exciting experiences can now fill her thoughts. Chloe is transformed.

What kind of fresh new enriching intellectual stimulation have your house cats gotten recently? Can you see how enrichment exposure, both mental and physical, will help them? Chloe shows us just some of the benefits that cats get with swimming.

At PetMassage Aquatics, we are committed to holding a space for therapeutic enrichment for our friends of the feline persuasion. Wednesdays are strictly reserved for cats!

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