A 'fat cat' that is more than double her usual size has been thrown in at the deep end in a mission to lose weight - by SWIMMING.
Mischa, who weighs as much as a french bulldog, has started the unusual hydrotherapy sessions in a bid to return to a healthy weight.
The nine-year-old cat was rescued by a protection centre after being overfed and not cared for properly by her previous owner.
Staff at the centre say that her weight loss mission is going swimmingly as she aims to lose half of her size.
Leanne, welfare officer at Burnley and Pendle Cats Protection, said: "Mischa absolutely loves it, we can't believe how much she enjoys the water.
"We have never had a cat as big as Mischa.
"The ideal weight for her breed of cat is around 4.5kg and she was 10kg when we got her.
"In seven years that I have been at the centre we have never thought about using hydro-therapy but this was a unique case.
"Cats don't usually like water at all but Mischa loves swimming."
Leanne, 44, is fostering Mischa at her home in Nelson, Lancs., while she loses the weight and says that she can see a real change since she began taking to the water.
Leanne added: "We didn't know how she would feel about going in the water but she has been going for two 20 minute sessions a week and she enjoys it so much.
"She has had to go on a diet of special vet biscuits which are weighed out every day.
"We will stick to her diet and my house is the best place for her, I'm not tempted to give her extra food even if she is cute."
Amy Shorrock, 28, an advanced rehabilitation practitioner at the centre, is hoping that the therapy will allow Mischa to lose her excess weight and can see a visible change in her already.
Amy said: "Mischa is definitely the largest cat we have treated at the centre.
"When we got Mischa in the pool she immediately took to the water, I couldn't believe it.
"The resistance of the water without any weight on her joints is really helping her.
"She has been coming twice a week for the last fortnight and she has really enjoyed it."
Mischa has lost two kilos so far but has four more to go, with vets expecting the weight loss to take between six and eight months.
Leanne says that Mischa has completely transformed since the treatment began at My Vet Hydro Rehabilitation Centre in Blackburn, Lancs.
She said: "Mischa is on painkillers daily and was in agony because of her size.
"Since she has been swimming, she has got a bit more energy back and has started to play with us.
"When she is in the water there must be so much relief to her joints and it must feel so great to her.
"I'm so grateful to Amy Shorrock at My Vet Hydro for letting her do all the swimming sessions for free.
"She really relaxes and looks so happy, she is relaxed for days after being in the pool.
"I can't believe how much she loves it."
Leanne hopes that the case of Mischa highlights the need to look after animals correctly.
She added: "This is a unique case which is a bit of an eye-opener.
"Her owner contacted us because she was overweight but when we arrived to collect her it was clear she had not been brushed and was very large.
"To allow Mischa to get in that state is awful, it is pure neglect.
"I would just tell owners to keep an eye on their cats and make sure that their weight is kept in shape.
"We won't give up on her."
Cats Protection's Clinical Veterinary Officer, Dr Vanessa Howie, said: "While Mischa may be benefiting physically from her hydrotherapy sessions, it is important that owners always seek veterinary advice to determine the best form of treatment, as every case will be different and the majority of cats do not like water."