Mutley and Hawkeye set out to surf the asphalt waves of Redding, Calif.

Photo Courtesy of Gene Alba

The Arrival of Hawkeye

Alba and Mutley were a happy scuba diving duo, exploring the shallow waters of the Caribbean and Alba's backyard pool on a regular basis. Things changed about 10 years ago when the pooch alerted Alba to some trouble outside their house. Mutley led her owner to a young cat that was tangled up in chicken wire. The female calico had the wire tight around her neck and was near death. Alba acted fast -- he got some pliers and cut her loose, performed mouth-to-mouth and saved her life. He named his new addition Hawkeye, nursed her back to health and quickly found that Mutley had a new best friend.

The unlikely pair became inseparable -- playing together, sleeping together, skateboarding together and even bathing together. Hawkeye first let Alba know she didn't mind water when she started jumping into the bathtub with Mutley. Before long, Hawkeye began to show a growing interest in her buddy's adventures in the swimming pool, too. One day when Mutley was enjoying a swim, Hawkeye took the plunge herself and did her best "cat paddle."

Alba explains that as long as Hawkeye can keep her face dry, she doesn't mind water. His theory is that she wants to be close to Mutley so much that she tolerates what most cats avoid. Then there's the matter of Hawkeye's figure. The kindest way to describe her is that she's a cat of generous proportions. Alba thinks that when Hawkeye was spayed there was an error in the procedure, which causes her belly to hang down too low. Regardless of the reason, swimming became a great way for Hawkeye to get some exercise without putting stress on her joints.

Hawkeye's newfound interest in swimming led Alba to the logical next step -- building a scuba rig for his rotund little girl. But the process of designing a wet suit for a heavy cat wasn't an easy prospect. Alba needed to make sure the wet suit didn't squeeze Hawkeye's body too much. He also needed to calibrate the system so that, like Mutley, the cat would remain underwater but still be able to float.

Clean out the litter box and click forward to the next page to see exactly how Alba managed to turn his beloved Hawkeye into Scuba Cat.