ROME (Reuters) - A tiny kitten that went for an ill-advised swim in the Sicilian sea has hung on to eight of its nine lives, thanks to a rescue mission by Italy's coast guard.

When a group of children at the port town of Marsala spotted the one-month-old cat floating in the sea, having apparently breathed his last, a patrolling officer dived in to save him.

Massaging the kitten's chest, murmuring encouragement and using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation just as they would on a human, officers managed to coax signs of life and eventually a weak miaow from the soaking animal.

Port authorities were so touched they decided to adopt the kitten, naming him "Charlie".

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by John Stonestreet)