When Jimmy was just six months old he was discovered by the side of the road in Southern Illinois. He was unable to walk, and dragged his back legs behind him as he moved. The cause of his injuries were not completely clear but the location he was found and the nature of his injuries seem to suggest he may have been hit by a car. Animal control were called and they arranged for him to be fostered by Rachael Resk of Naperville. Resk was chosen because she had experience of looking after cats who have had serious injuries. She received the medical reports and X-rays that had been taken after Jimmy was rescued. It seemed as if his walking issues were caused by spinal trauma. Resk expected that the issue would correct itself after he was able to rest for a couple of weeks. However, this turned out not to be the case. Jimmy’s recovery has taken months rather than weeks, and he is still being fostered by Resk, with some way to go yet until he will be completely recovered.
As well as not being able to walk, Jimmy also had incontinence issues when he first came to live with Resk. The injuries he had suffered meant that he was unable to empty his bladder without assistance. The fact that his bladder was frequently full meant that he developed a urinary tract infection. He also had an upper respiratory infection. These infections were the first things that were treated and this treatment with medication was successful. After the infections were cleared, Resk started doing rehab work with Jimmy at home, which included acupuncture. The rehab included getting into a standing position from sitting, standing up to eat and taking a few steps on a home treadmill.
When Jimmy had been with Resk about a month, she took him for another MRI scan. This showed that there was disc degeneration and that fluid was also bulging around his spine. She knew then that he still had a long road to recovery ahead of him. After a few months he had started to make real progress and was even squatting to urinate on occasions. However, he also had setbacks which included contracting pneumonia.
It was around this time that he began using the water treadmill. Hydrotherapy is a treatment that can help build muscle strength, as explained by Wag Walking. It can be used successfully with cats, but the fact that many of them have an aversion to water does make it more difficult. Many cats need behavior modification therapy before they are able to use the treadmill to get them used to the water.
Resk took him to physical therapy assistant Carole Jurca, who suggested trying the treadmill even though she was not sure it would work. Water therapy is not something that cats usually participate in because of their dislike for water in general. Jurca has been treating animals for over 14 years and Jimmy is the only cat in this time to have used the treadmill. He still does not seem to particularly enjoy being under the water, but it is something he can tolerate.
One of the reasons why Jimmy has adapted so well to using the water treadmill may be down to the issues he has with incontinence. Jurca told the Chicago Tribune that the fact that he needed to bathe rather than cleaning himself may have made him more comfortable in the water. He certainly did not react in the same way as many other cats, who have scratched and bitten Jurca when she has tried to place them in the water. Jurca would never force a pet into using the water treadmill if it was something that they were clearly uncomfortable with. However, she does remain convinced that it can be useful in a whole range of situations. There are several benefits to using water treadmills for physical therapy, which is why it was suggested as an option for Jimmy. The main benefit in this case was that it would allow him to practice his movement using all four legs without putting any additional strain on his bones and muscles. It is also much more difficult to fall when walking when using a treadmill in water.
Jimmy is currently having sessions on the water treadmill on a weekly basis. He also has acupuncture once a week and has a monthly appointment with a pet chiropractor. The treatments that he has been receiving have made a real difference to the rate of his recovery. Resk credits the use of the water treadmill with helping Jimmy to use the treadmill which isn’t in water that she has provided him at home. Using the treadmill in the water means that he knows how he is supposed to move whenever he is using it and this also helps to build his strength up. He is now capable of climbing the stairs from the basement to the ground floor, which is an incredible achievement.
Resk has set up an online appeal to help raise money to pay for the treatment that Jimmy continues to need. While he has come a long way already, there is still a fair distance to go. One of the next priorities will be trying to help him overcome the issues he has with his bladder. His vets believe that he will be able to gain more control as his spine and the muscles around the bladder become stronger. MSN reported that Resk is also considering setting up social media accounts for Jimmy. This would allow people who have taken an interest in his story to follow his progress. Eventually, Resk would like to see Jimmy find a home where he can spend the rest of his life being loved and cared for. Even though he is doing much better now, he will probably always needs that little bit of extra attention. He has shown such courage and determination to overcome his difficulties that he definitely deserves his happy ending.