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Floating feline 18-year-old cat loves family swimming pool

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Old cats can learn new tricks. Freddy is proof of this.

Freddy is a local 18-year-old feline that recently learned to take part in an activity traditionally attributed only to dogs -- swimming in a pool.

Brenda Meyer said her cat has been fascinated all his life with water. She has to ensure the bathroom doors stayed closed at all times or he'd sneak in to frolic in the toilet bowl. Freddy had already outsmarted her when she thought she had solved the problem by fastening Velcro to the lid and toilet seat.


"He went under the lid and seat and all you could see was his behind and him on his tippy toes," she said.

To quench her cat's water fascination, Meyer began giving him a large bowl of water so that he can play as he drinks.

Most felines aren't like Freddy, they avoid getting wet. My cat thinks his bath is a form of torture. When I'm finished giving it to her, I agree.

But in researching this topic, I have discovered many cats enjoy the water. And this doesn't merely include large wild cats, like tigers or jaguars. The domestic breed, the Turkish Van likes a good swim. According to the book Legacy of the Cat, by Gloria Stephens, the Turkish Van's coat is somewhat waterproof. And the breed may have learned to love the water because these cats knew there was a good chance they'd catch a meal off one of the many fishing boats in Lake Van (a lake in Southeast Turkey).

For those who don't believe that other cats like water, log onto YouTube. You can spend hours watching videos of cats swimming in pools and in the sea, too, and get a hearty laugh at the same time.

While Freddy's swimming tale may not be unique in the cat world, it's not entirely common either. What makes Freddy's story so special is that he started to swim in a pool at the age of 17.

After building a new home, Meyer was somewhat worried about his fascination with water and tried to keep him away from the new family pool. She eventually changed her mind. When she showed it to Freddy, his "eyes were as big as saucers."

Last October, Meyer got sad news: Freddy's veterinarian gave him a year to live.

Freddy has lost much of his weight. He's gone from a solid 12 pounds to six pounds, four ounces since he was diagnosed. But his illness doesn't diminish his love of water. Every morning, Meyer will head down to the pool with a coffee. Freddy beats her down the stairs. She lets him swim alone, but with a life-jacket. "[H]e is not a fan of all the clips and Velcro; however safety first," explained Meyer. She worries about his strength.

Sometimes Freddy doesn't take a long dip, he merely plays on the stairs. He'll splash with one paw and take a taste of the pool's saltwater. At this point "everything is on his terms," said Meyer.

Last week, Meyer ran Freddy's birthday announcement in the Free Press. He turned 18 on May 4. She had contacted me a while ago to see if there was a way to honour a pet in the paper other than through the obituary section. Like her spunky water-loving feline, her optimistic view shows that she tries to get the most out of the special moments in life.

My favourite part of Freddy's story, however, is that he enjoys the water despite being ill and a little long-in-the-tooth. It gives hope to people -- like me -- who can no longer be described as being "as young as a shiny new penny" (then again, a penny will no longer be described this way either).

One aspect of being a pet owner is dealing with complications. It's not easy. But the greatest part of loving a pet is enjoying the little things -- such as watching your cat swim while you drink a good cup of coffee or knowing your cat will run to you the minute you use the can opener. While every cat owner may not have a feline that loves to swim, each pet has traits that make it loveable and unique, the memory of which you can keep forever.

Freddy and Meyer provide us with a good lesson: enjoy life, enjoy the little things, but most of all enjoy each other.

-- -- --

Last week, Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan introduced Bill 19, also referred to as the shield to protect bill. If passed, it could make it illegal to use guard dogs as a cover for those committing unlawful activities.

According to Bill McDonald, CEO of The Winnipeg Humane Society, "This act will give criminals a second thought about training animals from becoming dangerous to others and some teeth to convict those who do."

Over 2,000 calls a year are made by the WHS's animal protection officers who respond to residences in which illegal activity may be occurring. Many of the dogs removed on these calls have been trained to be aggressive. This means these animals are no longer eligible to be adopted. Euthanasia is likely the only option.

Should this bill be made into law, violators could face a $5,000 fine and or a three-month jail term. As of May 2, Bill 19 was in its first reading.


In the pet community:

It's that time again to register yourself or your team for Paws in Motion, the annual walk that helps raise funds for the Winnipeg Humane Society. The walk is on June 24 and teams have already started to raise money. For those new to this event, the WHS website offers a myriad of ideas to help you get started. You don't even have to walk yourself, you can sponsor someone else.

Take the time to help our furry buddies and check out this event by logging onto, or call (204) 982-2044.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2012 C5

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