SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Meow can't help but waddle. He's one super-sized cat.
The 2-year-old orange and white tabby tips the scale at nearly 40 pounds, and the Santa Fe Animal Shelter is on a mission to get the feline back into shape.
Meow's 87-year-old owner could no longer take care of him, so the pet was turned over to a shelter in southeastern New Mexico that called the Santa Fe shelter for help.
"The thing with this cat is when you look at it, certainly it's obese. You see that. But it's a sweet looking cat. His face is very sweet. It's just incredibly fat," shelter spokesman Ben Swan said Friday.
Meow has been placed with a foster family. He'll be on a special diet so he can start shedding some pounds. The goal is for him to lose at least 10 pounds so he can be put up for adoption.
The shelter plans to post updates on Meow's weight loss on its Facebook page.
It's not clear how the feline was able to gain so much weight in just two years. Adult cats typically weigh between seven and 12 pounds.
"If you go online, you'll see a lot of fat cats and these are people who have fed them just one thing, like meat or something that's not nutritionally balanced," Swan said. "Then the cat refuses to eat anything else and then they just get fatter and fatter and fatter."
Meow has one thing going for him. He's not the fattest cat out there.
That record belongs to Himmy, a tabby from Australia that weighed almost 47 pounds. The shelter said Guinness World Records has since stopped accepting applications for the record over concerns it would encourage people to overfeed their animals.
In Meow's case, the shelter is awaiting blood test results to make sure he doesn't have any additional health problems.
Shelter veterinarian Jennifer Steketee said the idea is for Meow to gradually lose weight by eating a special diet. He has already lost a couple of pounds since being turned in.
Steketee said the dangers of feline obesity are not much different than they are for humans - extra pressure on the heart and joints.
Swan said all the extra weight makes it tough for Meow to play. He had little interest in the super-sized toy mouse the shelter gave him when he first arrived and he couldn't squeeze much more than his head into the carpeted ring attached to the shelter's scratching post.
"He's very sweet. He's doing everything a normal cat would do except he loses his breath and tires easily," Swan said. "We're seeing what we can to do help him."