PHOENIX -- Folks at Animal Care and Control found themselves facing a weighty situation this week: a 28 pound cat!
The plus-sized cat was surrendered to Animal Care & Control as a stray. But he had already been neutered, declawed and was obviously someone's pet at one time. Staffers at the shelter have named him Albert, and are hoping he will soon find a new, loving home.
Due to his size, the corpulent cat has difficulty walking, grooming and using the litter box. But vets now have the four-year-old male on a reduced-calorie diet. He also has to walk to his food dish and get some daily exercise.
"He should probably be closer to 12 pounds," says Melissa Gable of Maricopa County Animal Care & Control.
Vets say Albert needs plenty of room to move and exercise. The larger living space is also necessary to house the extra-large litter box that he requires. He's available for adoption, but he will require a pet parent willing to work with him on his long journey back to good health.
Recent surveys have shown that humans aren't the only ones who are obese. A 2012 survey found that U.S. pet obesity rates are mirroring those of their owners. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats are considered overweight or obese.
"I like to say that (Albert's) previous owners were killing him with kindness," says Gable. "They probably thought, oh, he loves treats; let's give him a bunch of treats. Chances are, at some point he was probably overfed."
Vets say Albert's situation is a good reminder about the importance of keeping pets physically fit. With the rise in pet obesity comes a rise in the number of weight-related disorders such as hypertension and osteoarthritis. Overweight cats are four times more likely to develop diabetes.
Too much food, too many treats and not enough play time can all lead to overweight pets. And like human weight loss, there isn't a quick fix. In fact, weight loss in cats should be deliberately slow. Cats who lose weight too quickly can develop life-threatening fatty liver disease.
"If he loses weight too quickly, that could put him into liver failure," Gable tells us.
For information on adopting Albert or another homeless pet, you can contact Maricopa County Animal Care & Control online or at 602-506-3011. The agency is a full service animal welfare agency with shelter, adoptions, field services, licensing and education programs. Our mission is to promote and protect the health, safety, and welfare of people and pets in Maricopa County.