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Image: Mog the cat swims around Hawksland hydrotherapy pool
Mog the cat swims around a Hawksland hydrotherapy pool as part of his rehabilitation from a serious car crash. The 1-year-old gray tabby was left with nerve damage that left his front legs completely paralyzed.
TODAY contributor
updated 6/27/2011 5:26:22 PM ET 2011-06-27T21:26:22

Curiosity didn’t kill Mog the cat. But it came close.

The gray feline is doted on by his owner, Veronica Ashworth of the small English village of Lostwithiel. But Mog has long shown a sense of wanderlust, visiting local shops, the dentist and school band practice.

Then, last February, Mog’s roving spirit got the best of him — and in the worst way — when he was struck by a car. The cat suffered nerve damage that left his two front legs paralyzed. But when experts told Ashworth that Mog would never cat-walk again, she decided she’d fight like cats and dogs against the gloomy prognosis.

So Ashworth took the novel step of signing Mog up for rehab at the Hawksland Canine Hydrotherapy center in neighboring St. Issey. In other words, Mog is learning to walk again by learning to swim.

The center’s trainer, Ros Boisseau, told the U.K. Daily Mail she has a regular clientele of dogs — but Mog is the first cat she’s tried to help. And true to form, Mog revels in his status as top cat at a pool normally reserved for doggies.

Image: Veronica Ashworth (left) holds her cat, Mog, after a swimming session at Hawksland hydrotherapy pool
Veronica Ashworth (left) holds  Mog, after a swimming session. Also pictured is hydrotherapy pool owner Ros Boisseau. 

“He’s such an extrovert that when there were some students in watching him swim, he was really showing off,” Ashworth told London’s Daily Mail newspaper. “I know it’s quite unusual for cats to swim, but he’s such a character.”

In the swim
You can bring a cat to water, but you can’t usually get him to dive in. But Mog is an exception: Over the course of 10 weeks’ hydrotherapy, he has changed how he thinks about the drink.

Related: Swimming kitty proves she’s no fraidy cat

“The first time I put him in the water he looked at me in horror, but I told Veronica to call him. Then he meowed at her and struck out across the pool to her,” Boisseau said. “He really is amazing — cats don’t tend to like swimming.”

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Kitty paddle
And aside from cat-apulting him to fame, the 1-year-old kitty’s doggie paddling is giving him some serious benefit: After two and a half months of therapy, Mog can now bear weight on his two front legs, leading Ashworth to hope Mog will prove the doctors wrong and prowl on his own four paws again.

Ashworth adds that while Mog makes a bit of a fuss about going swimming, she senses that the cat might actually realize he’s helping himself.

“He makes a lot of noise about it, but he does it,” she said. “He does sort of a funny dog paddle; it’s hilarious to watch. I think he realizes it is doing him good.”

With Mog’s aquatic progress, could the therapy center become Hawksland Canine and Feline Hydrotherapy? Probably not: Trainer Boisseau suspects Mog may be the only cat in his category.

“I doubt there’ll be a rush of cats coming in for swimming therapy,” she told the Mail.

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