After being severely attacked by a wild animal while living outdoors, the 7-10 year old feline was taken to the veterinarian for his ailing wounds that were filled with pus and maggots. His guardian had taken him to the vet for treatment and decided that they no longer wanted to care/keep their cat. With severe injuries to his back-end, the need for ongoing medications, being morbidly obese (hardly able to walk or stand on his own for more than a few seconds at a time) and as an older adult cat— the cat was no longer wanted.
Rather than face the grim alternative, the caring veterinarian made one call— a call that would change the cats life forever (although we hope it is not too late). The veterinarian called Advocates 4 Animals, asking if we could find room to foster a severely obese, older cat with injuries and in need of medication- and major weight loss. Trusting and knowing our veterinarian would only call us in a dire situation, we scrambled to create a plan and make room.
Later that day the morbidly obese orange and white cat entered A4A. We were speechless to say the least. In more than a decade of operating our rescue/adoption program- we have come across a small handful of obese cats- but never have we seen a cat as large as this. At over 25 pounds, he is hardly able to stand on his own for more than a few seconds. Photos cannot do justice for his size. At first, overwhelmed at the enormity of the situation- we knew we needed to develop a solid weight loss plan immediately. Even then, we knew (we know) there are no guarantees.
“Owner surrender” cats who are overweight (and in this case morbidly obese) are at high risk for suffering from Lipidosis– a fatal condition. When cats have homes and are “surrendered” or passed along to a shelter, rescue organization or another home- the transition is very hard. Cats, in general, are very routine animals. When you add the extra weight to that– it gets very challenging. Often when cats switch environments they become very nervous and stop eating. They miss their former families, their routines. They miss their old life and wonder why they were left behind. We have witnessed this thousands of times over the years and it is heartbreaking every time. Lipidosis can occur when a cat stops eating for several days. And this can be fatal— and is most likely to occur in larger cats. The morbidly obese are at a very high-risk.
The odds are stacked against him— morbid obesity, severe injuries/wounds (filled with maggots and pus), the need for ongoing medication to treat the wounds and being an owner surrender cat— this is no easy task.
But we knew it was his last chance.
Now, here at A4A- we have named him COOPER. Cooper is a name that means handsome. We wanted to give him a name that represents his journey of transformation.
A healthy, normal cat weighs around 12-15 pounds. At over 25 pounds- Cooper has a long road ahead of him. And his older age isn’t doing him any favors. But we’re committed to doing everything we can to give him the best chance at survival- and at living a quality life.
At his current weight he can hardly stand or walk for more than a few seconds. His breathing becomes labored immediately. To walk across one small room he becomes out of breath and needs to take several breaks along the way. It is heartbreaking…
So, why do cats become morbidly obese?This can be a combination of issues, or just one. One online animal blogger shares, “First the obvious – overfeeding. This may happen either because you’re giving in to the begging or because you’re free-feeding (keeping food available all day) and your cat is not self-regulated. The second reason is feeding inappropriate, low-quality food (most dry foods). The third would be medical reasons I’m not qualified to discuss, but they’re rare. Most cats are fat simply because they’re fed the wrong food and are fed too much.“
There are a myriad of health concerns that come along with a severely overweight pet. It can often lead to diabetes- and let’s not forget how terrible it must feel not to be able to stand or walk on your own.
Many experts share their concerns with dry food for cats. One blogger writes, “With very few exceptions, dry food is not appropriate food for cats. It’s chock full of carbs/sugar, doesn’t provide enough meat-based protein, and is often loaded with grains such as wheat or corn (which provide those carbs/sugars). Wheat, corn and soy are known allergens and in many cats will cause digestive upsets. Not to mention most also contain “meal” and “byproducts.” Cats are obligate carnivores who need to eat a diet high in protein (from meat) and fat and very low in carbs. The mouse is the perfect cat food – meat, organs and bones, with perhaps a tiny bit of grains that may exist in the mouse’s stomach. In addition, dry food leaves cats dehydrated. They do not instinctively drink enough water because they’re designed to get it IN their food. This results in concentrated urine which can lead to all sorts of problems. And it DOES NOT CLEAN THE TEETH! Really – think about – does dry food clean OUR teeth? If it did wouldn’t dentists prescribe cookies instead of brushing?
The solution is to switch the fat cat (and any others in the household as well) to a good quality grainless canned food (or research raw feeding). Because these foods are species appropriate, the cat will lose weight at a safe, slow pace (no more than 1 pound per month). Switching foods needs to occur slowly, and if you’re trying to get a kibble junkie to eat canned food, that will happen naturally.“
Cooper is now safely at A4A- indoors. He has a private bedroom all to himself in his temporary A4A volunteer foster home. He receives his daily meds to help heal his severe wounds and rid him of the maggots. He is on a highly monitored weight-loss plan with grain-free, high-quality food. We brush him daily (he is too big to turn his head to bathe himself), and we spend time petting him, talking with him and giving him attention – to help him overcome his despair of being left behind. We are doing everything we can to help him avoid falling into the fatal trap of Lipidosis— and right now it is critical as he transitions to his temporary foster home. We work with him daily to help him walk back and forth across the room- getting him up and moving- although this is a huge task and causes severely labored breathing among other stresses on his bones and body.
We will post regular updates on Cooper’s weight loss journey (it is a bit like he has entered Biggest Loser Camp!) on our Facebook page. As a 501c3 non-profit organization, we rely on donations to continue saving lives like Cooper’s. Every dollar donated goes directly to the animals. We are in search of sponsors for Cooper’s ongoing weight-loss and recovery journey. You can sponsor Cooper for just $10 a month (or any amount you choose)— your donation will be of great assistance to his ongoing care and rehabilitation…this is a big journey.
Cooper is purring every time we work with him, pet him, brush him—- he is happy and grateful to be alive, to be spared. We have no doubt that he will be incredibly appreciative of your support as well. Please consider making a donation or becoming a sponsor for Cooper today. Your support is needed in this lofty endeavor.
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