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Meet Barsik, the 41-pound shelter cat who is a "big deal" in more ways than one.
The stocky New York City feline, who has the heft of a medium-sized dog, is on his way to becoming an Instagram star, with more than 6,000 followers, and will soon be looking for a forever home.
“He’s probably one of the biggest cats alive right now, as far as we know,” Barsik’s foster mom, Angelique Iuzzolino, told TODAY. “I was posting about him on my personal account, but then he started to get a lot of attention.”
That’s when she made him the @BigBarsik account.
Barsik has gone from the shelter to superstar status in the course of a week. The cat was dropped off at Animal Care Centers of New York City along with his companion, 13-pound Sukie, earlier this month. The duo were then turned over to Anjellicle Cats Rescue, a local not-for-profit organization.
That's when they met Iuzzolino, who has experience fostering cats until they find forever homes.
“When Barsik was in the shelter, they couldn’t put him in one of the kennels because he was too big. He’s so large that he can’t do a whole lot about people touching him in ways he does not want,” Iuzzolino said.
When she was told Barsik and Sukie needed to stay together, she took them both. Both cats required a little time to warm up to their new surroundings, but have become incredibly sweet and affectionate.
“When I first let Barsik out into our bedroom, he immediately tried to hide,” Iuzzolino said. “We let him decompress for a few hours, and when we got back, we started petting him a bit and he relaxed.”
Barsik “trusts us now and is incredibly affectionate,” she said. And he's happy to be living with his pal, Sukie.
Once Barsik is on the right track, with a veterinarian-approved diet, the cat will be put up for adoption. The ideal forever home will be with Sukie, and in the New York, New Jersey or Connecticut area, Iuzzolino said.
“There are a lot of people who like the way he looks. They like fat cat,” she said. “He needs to live with someone who wants to help make sure he is doing OK and is losing (weight) at a safe pace.”
There’s also one thing Barsik’s future owner might want to know about the cat, who is bound to spend some time being a bit hangry as he gets down to a healthy weight.
“We tried to pick him up once,” Iuzzolino said. “And that was a big no!”