Show most cats a swimming pool and they’ll run a mile. Charlie on the other hand is so keen on water he’s happy to dive in and paddle in his buoyancy vest for 45 minutes at a time.
However, there is method in his feline madness – he is trying to shed pounds after ballooning to double the weight he should be.
The 11-year-old British shorthair was adopted by the Eyres family as a companion to Rosalyn, 84, after her husband died.
But when Mrs Eyres’ granddaughter Robyn, 30, took him to the vet in Plymouth, she discovered the family’s new pet was obese.
She was told that Charlie needed to slim down to between seven and nine pounds after he piled on weight nearly a year ago.
But the family’s efforts failed after he developed a taste for the slimming food that they bought for him and he chose to lounge around at home under the furniture.
Miss Eyres then took the cat to the nearby K9 Splash Hydrotherapy centre, usually only used by dogs, after the vet suggested it.
To her surprise Charlie took to the water with ease and can now complete 12 lengths in 45 minutes with breaks to make sure his heart rate doesn’t rise too high.
He is particularly strong on his front paws so a hydrotherapist supports his hind legs. Now he has managed to shed four of the seven pounds he needs to lose.
Miss Eyres, a support worker, said: ‘Usually if a cat was in water it would scramble around to get out, but not Charlie. He does a sort of doggy paddle.’
She added: ‘The change in Charlie is really quite clear as well – he’s a lot more confident around the house and doesn’t lie around nearly as much as he used to.’
It is thought most cats don’t like water because wet fur can weigh them down. But it may simply be that they’ve never experienced it before, and cats can be quite nervous.