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It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks for Samson the cat, who has quickly become famous as New York City's biggest feline — and, quite possibly, the biggest cat in the world.
The New York Post was the first to report on this 28-pound, 4-foot-long cat earlier this month. Since then, media outlets the world over have gushed over the massively adorable Maine Coon.
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On Tuesday afternoon, in fact, Samson's owner, Jonathan Zurbel, had to excuse himself during a phone call with TODAY because TMZ was on the other line.
"Trying to get some cat gossip," Zurbel explained. "This is new."
Samson, who lives in Brooklyn, is just over 4 years old.
Zurbel's brother had originally purchased the cat from a breeder, with his then-girlfriend. In early 2014, after the relationship ended, Samson went to live with Zurbel.
Until last year, he was pretty unnewsworthy but still very lovable 19-or-so-pound pet.
Then Samson hit a late-stage growth spurt — which is not unheard of for this breed — and all of a sudden captured the public's attention.
Now, Samson's groomer — whom he previously saw every six months — is traveling with the cat-lebrity to television appearances and photo shoots, fluffing his mane and treating Samson to oatmeal scrubs and blow-dries.
"He is the Fabio of cats," his groomer, Carolyn Ayala, told People.
"He smells great," Zurbel said.
The cat currently receives some 200 pieces of fan mail every day, Zurbel estimates. There have even been requests for Samson's sperm — which are declined; he's neutered.
His eating habits have come under intense scrutiny. (Since you want to know: Samson eats as many six cans of wet food per day, plus some freeze-dried chicken. Samson's favorite snack is dry food — a special, large-sized kibble made for large-sized Maine coons — but he can't eat a lot of it, lest he get too titanic.)
Zurbel, who is a DJ and musician, and works in social media, said his own manager is now mostly fielding Samson-related inquiries.
"My manager has become a meow-nager," he said. "It's very surreal."
Samson was even recently given a $450 self-cleaning robot litter box by a company hoping to persuade consumers that its products will accommodate even the most portly of purrers.
"I don't have a toilet that nice," observed Zurbel. (Yes, Samson fits.)
Zurbel's favorite moments with Samson are still the small, quiet ones, like snuggling together in bed.
Still, he now finds himself in the unexpectedly fortunate position of figuring out how best to use his cat's newly immense platform.
He's contemplating merchandise possibilities — like T-shirts, perhaps. But he's also wondering what good he can do, like encouraging pet adoption.
Along those lines, Zurbel hopes that the main thing people notice about Samson isn't his size, but his sweetness: how much joy and love the cat brings to Zurbel's life, and what a good companion a cat can be — a message that could prompt some of Samson's fans to head over to their local shelter.
"There's just so many cats that need a place to live and are wonderful, too," said Zurbel.
"He can have a big voice with helping out."