Fat Cat Tries Diet

Mighty, 32-pound Sumo gets dropped off at the RSPCA in need of weight-loss help.

Garfield, move over, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals received an unexpected heavy delivery last week in the form of a 32-pound tortoiseshell tabby named Sumo.

RSPCA Veterinarian Vicki Lomax says about Sumo, “He is the biggest cat I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been a vet for 45 years.” She continues, “For a cat like him, 5 to 6 kg [11 to 12 pounds] would probably be a reasonable weight.”

The family of Sumo couldn’t take care of him after they moved into a new house, so they handed him over to the RSPCA to hopefully find a good home. That’s when the staff there decided to name him Sumo, obviously a take on his rather large frame.

Even just 3 extra pounds on a cat is like having 40 extra pounds on a human. If you look at it like that, Sumo, who is about 19 pounds overweight, has what would be more than 200 pounds on a human. A cat with this much extra weight is at risk for feline diabetes, organ issues, and ligament and joint problems.

Jim Boelke, president of Neenah, Wis.-based Cat Dancer Products Inc. says obesity is the No. 1 feline health problem in most countries in which cats are house pets.

“Cats can be very persistent; there are cats that will follow you to the fridge and more or less demand food. There are owners who have trouble saying no. I guess it’s like parents saying no to the kids,” Lomax says. “Overweight cats are pretty much subject to the same problems we have when we’re overweight.” She adds, “If it’s difficult to feel their ribs, that usually means the cat is overweight.” Lomax recommends that if your cat still hasn’t started losing weight after a month of reducing his or her food intake, you should take your cat to the vet.

Tanya Boland, one of the vet nurses at the RSPCA, is carefully watching and taking care of Sumo at the moment. Boland has Sumo on a strict diet, and he is expected to lose about 9 ounces a week. He should be back on tract and at a healthy weight in about eight months. Sumo probably doesn’t realize it yet, but what he thinks is a sad and measly 2 cups of low-calorie dry food a day is actually a life saver.

And what about after all of the weight loss? Sumo’s skin is surely stretched. “I’m not sure what we’re going to do with all his skin when he’s done. He might need a nip and a tuck,” says Lomax. “I’m sure we can find a vet who can deal with it.” Sounds like a reality show ready to happen.

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