When Kay Ford laid eyes on Patches, it was love at first sight. It's easy to see why — there's a lot more to love when you're dealing with a 40.3-pound cat.
The Virginia resident first read about Patches when her daughter sent her a Facebook post from Richmond Animal Care and Control, a local shelter that was seeking a home for the cat.
“Did you wake up today and say, ‘let’s adopt the largest cat anyone has ever seen’? If so, we have the cat for you,” the post read.
"She sent a picture of the post with the words, 'This is your moment!'" Ford tells TODAY.com in a message.
The RACC team posted a photo of the perfectly plump cat with a cheeky caption explaining that Patches was on a special diet and exercise plan and simply needed someone to help him “get to a safe and healthy weight.”
“Until then, we will marvel at his gloriously gluttoness body!" the shelter wrote.
Patches was even heavier when he arrived at RACC. According to Adoption and Intake Coordinator Savannah Hughes, the cat weighed in at 42 pounds when his original owners brought him in.
“He lost a little bit of weight with the diet that we put him on,” she tells TODAY.com over the phone.
Hughes, who interacted regularly with Patches while he was waiting to be adopted, describes him as “extremely sweet.”
“At first, he came in and he was kind of scared... He came out of his shell pretty fast,” she says.
RACC Outreach Coordinator Robin Young explains that Patches’ original owners dropped him off April 4 since they could no longer take care of him. Naturally, the cat made quite the impression on the RACC team.
"We were all shocked by his size. He’s definitely the largest cat any of our staff has ever seen," Young tells TODAY.com over email.
On April 19, RACC posted a photo of Patches on Facebook and "immediately starting receiving emails from interested adopters," according to Young. People as far as California and Maine even inquired about taking Patches home.
That very same day, the team selected Ford from a plethora of applications.
"We loved Kay’s email describing how she would help Patches on his weight loss journey, and they would both lose weight together. She was also an experienced pet owner ready for the challenge," Young says.
After two weeks at RACC, Patches ventured off to his new home at Ford's house and the 40.3-pound, 6-year-old kitty met his new siblings: a 13-year-old Yorkie sister, Bella, who Ford says is "completely unfazed by him," and a 2-year-old cat brother named Wellesley, who looks just like Patches but with smaller markings.
"Wellesley is not adjusting as well as Bella but it’s just going to take some time. He loves his mama! One day soon he and Patches will be great friends," she says.
Helping Patches shed some pounds will require a lot of dedication, but Ford says she's up for the challenge. She also helped answer the question that's on everyone's minds: How did he get so large?
"The only back story that I am aware of is that the reason why he got so big was (his owners fed him) too many treats," she says.
Luckily, Patches was previously seeing a veterinarian, so Ford can share his records with his new doctor when he goes for his first visit next week.
When Ford initially met with the RACC's on-site veterinarian, she learned that convincing Patches to commit to an exercise plan won't be easy. But small steps will make a world of difference, she says.
Despite his size, Patches can walk, which he "prefers to do it on his own time," Ford says. But he does require a bit of prodding to get moving.
"He takes a few steps, rests, takes a few steps, rests," she explains.
Surprisingly, Patches doesn't exactly have a huge appetite.
“He is not a voracious eater... so for now I’m just making sure that he is in fact, eating,” she says.
Now that he's settling in to his new home, Patches will surely have lots of adventures ahead.
Ford has set up a Facebook page to keep track of his weight loss journey and all his escapades. After creating it this week, the page already has over 5,000 followers.
Looking ahead, Ford is focused on supporting Patches as he embarks on a healthier lifestyle and said she can't wait to see what the future holds for him.
"I see in his eyes, I see it I see that he’s uncomfortable," she says. "And I see a beautiful, exciting, vibrant personality just waiting to be manifested once, he sheds the weight."