Aug. 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM ET
When shelter workers at the Fredericton SPCA in New Brunswick, Canada first noticed a box by their front door they assumed it was a full of blankets or toys, as neighbors often donate supplies. Instead, the box contained a cat that weighed over 30 pounds, with no additional information.
The shelter's volunteers named the domestic shorthair Tiny and took him to see local veterinarian Dr. Nicole Jewett, as his weight was twice what it should've been for his frame.
“I was shocked at how big he was,” Jewett, who practices at the Valley Veterinary Hospital in Fredericton, told TODAY.com. “Honestly that’s probably the biggest (domestic) cat I’ve ever seen.” Jewett, who has been practicing veterinary medicine for nearly 10 years, said she wasn’t sure how Tiny had gotten that big. She guessed him to be between 5 to 7 years old.
Jewett thinks that he got to be obese by having free access to food, and that his problem was probably one even humans can relate to: portion control.
Jewett put him on a very strict, calorie-controlled diet. “It has absolutely no carbohydrates and he’s on 100% canned food,” she said. He has responded well to the program. Since he arrived at the shelter last December he already dropped his weight to below 20 pounds, Jewett confirmed.
Obesity in cats can turn fatal. Meow, a 39 lbs., 10 oz. cat featured on TODAY, unfortunately didn’t survive, due to his weight.
Jewett was worried Tiny might lose his battle as well. “There’s a huge risk with these guys,” she said. Obesity can lead to liver disease which causes liver failure, as well as a myriad other problems.
But Tiny has been “doing fantastic,” she said. Once unable to get up from the exam table, he now happily explores the exam room at Jewett’s office during his monthly check-ups. “He came to the shelter in time for us to do something,” she said. He is in a foster home as it was decided that the stress of the shelter would be detrimental to his health. Once he is fully recovered, he will be available for adoption.
Looks like there may be plenty of people looking to make Tiny part of their family. His story has garnered lots of interest online. The shelter has even set up a Facebook page for him, showing off his wardrobe of ties and documenting his weight loss.
There is one thing that hasn’t changed: he’s still very interested in treats. According to Jewett, “If you use treats and throw them he’ll run after them and bat them around on the floor.” Luckily, he’s now more interested in playing with his food than eating it.