Cat Stroke Survivor Gets Water Therapy - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

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Cat Stroke Survivor Gets Water Therapy

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ATLANTA, Ga. -

Kim Oliver has had her Siamese Meesha since Kim was just a teenager. Oliver says, “She's like a roommate and best friend."

Now, the two have come to Georgia Veterinary Rehabilitation in Marietta, hoping Meesha can come back from a paralyzing stroke in April. Oliver says, “She started leaning to the left side and she just, eventually, she just tipped over. And she wasn't able to really move, or go to the restroom on her own. Or feed herself on her own."

GVR veterinarian Dr. Jill Bailey, says, “We don't feel like she's unhappy. We feel like this is quite a big bump in the road, and it's worth working with her and trying to get her back, absolutely."

An underwater treadmill seems to be helping,

GVR veterinarian Dr. Jill Bailey and Meesha step inside what looks like a giant fish tank and turn on the water.

At first, Meesha is not liking the looks of this.

But when she's lowered, she's calm.

So, they slowly start the treadmill.

This is only Meesha's second time on the underwater treadmill. Here in the water, she's been able to stand up, and walk, for the first time since her stroke.

Dr. Bailey says, “She does walk with her head tilted to the side, so that makes it a little more challenging for her."

The water holds Meesha's weakened legs up, while Dr. Bailey guides her through the motions of walking, trying to to help her brain - and muscles - remember how to walk. They call this neurological gait training. Dr. Bailey says, “If we support them, we find they're much more able to get their gait back. It's important for her to be able to navigate the house at home."

But how do you even get a cat to do this? Kim Oliver says, “I bathe Meesha once a day in our little sink at home, so she's always been a cat that's been kind of conditioned to getting in the water."

Though Meesha doesn't go quietly. The whole session, she’s meowing.

Dr. Bailey says, "She loves to complain, but it's all just talk, she loves and loves and loves to talk. You can hear her complaining and swishing her tail. But she's never offered to do anything mean to any of us."

The GVR team is not just water, but Chinese medicine and acupuncture, to try to get Meesha back on her feet. Kim Oliver says, “It's been 8 months since her original diagnosis, and honestly, I think she's doing better than she ever has, compared to when she first started out."

When her session is over, Meesha is rewarded with a nice, big warm towel. She’s still complaining, but no worse for the wear.

Meesha is the first cat to use GVR’s underwater treadmill. Many dogs have used the device, which GVR says can be helpful for animals with arthritis and neurological conditions, and for pets who are overweight. The water supports them, so they can exercise without cause too much stress on their joints. An underwater treadmill session costs about $80, and pets must be examined and evaluated before taking part in a session.

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