Dr. Jennifer Steketee holds Meow. Image from the Santa Fe Animal Shelter's Facebook page
As a person with a semi-famously enormous cat, anytime a similarly enormous cat is in the news, people -- from family members to strangers -- will send me links about it.
I know the links are well-intentioned, but they often bum me out, especially the comment threads, which typically imagine the worst-ever neglect/overfeeding scenario to explain why the cat in question is so freaking big.
To be fair, I don’t know many people who force-feed their cats lard, and frankly if you’ve ever tried to make a cat eat something it didn’t want to eat, you’ll know how painful that experience can be. (I’ve been through it with a skin-and-bones cancer-addled cat, and seriously you guys -- cat’s not gonna eat if it doesn’t wanna eat.)
Likewise, trying to get between a cat and something it DOES want to eat is almost impossible; I have had cats stone-cold starve themselves rather than eat way healthier canned food. This is troubling enough with a normal weight cat, but for fatties like my much-beloved 23-pound Rufus, simply saying, “Oh, when he gets hungry enough he’ll eat it,” is not workable when even just a couple days off food can cause hepatic lipidosis -- a life-threatening liver ailment -- in fat cats.
So I sympathize with the fat-cat owners, and the scary difficulty in making fat cats less fat in a safe manner, even while vets often shrug and acknowledge that slimming a cat down is sometimes an impossible undertaking.
And having been a person who was once publicly eviscerated in comment threads for having a giant cat -- a result of an offhand comment about Rufus in an unrelated profile of me in the Boston Globe several years back -- I like it when cats and owners get the chance to set the record straight.
The fat cat who has most recently caught national attention is Meow, a 39-pound cat recently surrendered to a Sante Fe, NM animal shelter, because his elderly owner could no longer care for him. I was really happy to see this post over on our sister site Catster, in which the daughter of Meow’s owner talks about his story -- an unexpectedly touching story about love and the rewards of rescuing a special needs cat.
When Marie came back the next year, Meow was close to his current weight. Marie's mother had moved into her sister's home, and her sister became her full-time caretaker.
Meow adapted pretty well to the move, and he had become her mother's constant companion. "When she was in the bedroom he was with her; when she was in the living room he was with her -- he was always somewhere he could see her," Marie said. "He even climbed into her bed (by way of a footstool) and sat on her feet, which she loved because her feet were always cold."
Then, just six weeks ago, the family got terrible news: Marie's sister had Stage IV lung cancer. Untreatable. The only option was palliative care. Marie rushed down to New Mexico to help take care of all the final details and arrange for her mother's care -- and the care of the animals.
It’s definitely worth a read, if only for the reminder about the dangers of judging a book by its cover -- even when the cover is fat and fluffy.