One Midwest group of animal lovers regularly tour around the shelters of the area on the look out for unwanted four-legged friends. They are looking for suitable cat candidates they can take back and rehabilitate in their own sanctuary. But when the rescuers visited one particular pound in mid-2017, the pitiable sight they saw there broke their hearts. There was an abandoned tom cat who loomed so large in its little kennel, that the only thing the poor moggie could move was its eyes – and they seemed to be crying for help.
The Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue is based in the city of Mandan in North Dakota. The animal welfare organization functions on a not-for-profit basis. Founded in 2007, the charity’s main mission is to care for mini equine breeds that have suffered abuse or neglect in their lives.
However, horses aren’t the only animals with four legs who benefit from Triple H’s work. That’s because the organization also runs a project called Kitty City. Since 2016, the charity has provided room for this sanctuary for felines that have fallen on hard times and are looking to find a “forever” home.
Cats and kittens arrive at Kitty City for all kinds of reasons, but all of its residents are available for adoption. The facility has room for more than 50 moggies, some of whom may be undesirable to adopters because they are older or have behavioral issues. Alternatively, rescue workers may have plucked the pussies from kill-shelters, saving them from unnecessary death.
That’s how one pussycat called Pavarotti wound up a resident of Kitty City. In July 2017, a team from the feline facility had arrived at a local pound to pick up a momma cat and her kittens. However, while they were there Pavarotti caught their attention. And it’s not hard to see why – he’s as similarly plus-sized as his rotund opera-singing namesake.
As the team passed the kennel Pavarotti was occupying, they couldn’t help but notice that the big tom seemed to be squeezed into the small space. In fact, the poor pussy was so massive that he had hardly any room to move. He just sat there peering out, hoping someone would one day save him from the confines of the kennel.
Feeling that they were unable to leave Pavarotti at the pound facing an uncertain future, the team decided that this was the day. However, it wasn’t until he was out of his kennel that the rescuers realized the extent of the pussycat’s problems. Pavarotti wasn’t just a fat cat – he was dangerously overweight.
“He is utterly obese, can’t clean himself,” a spokesperson for Kitty City told feline fans at the website Love Meow in July 2017. “He sat at the pound for over a month and then I was asked to take him as no-one wanted him. He was ‘too fat.’ Everyone wanted ‘perfect.’ He is perfect in my eyes.”
No-one could tell how long Pavarotti had been so obese. However, it was a high probability that this was why he had been abandoned. It was also a reason why he could be overlooked by any potential adoptees. Many are unwilling to take on a cat with medical complications. With this in mind, there was only one thing the volunteers at Kitty City felt they could do.
They picked Pavarotti up and transported him to their sanctuary. Once he had arrived, staff gave him a large outdoor enclosure where he had all the room he needed to move around. They hoped that with a bit of activity and a sensible diet, the pounds would fall off the roly-poly pussy. They were confident it wouldn’t be long before Pavarotti got back into shape.
Just as with humans, the problem of obesity can cause major health issues for cats. Grossly overweight felines are more likely to develop diabetes, arthritis and fatty liver disease. But despite the dangers, animal experts are pointing to the fact that more and more moggies are becoming obese.
In 2011, U.S. campaign group the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that more than half American felines were overweight. Sad to say, the reason for fat cats is simple. Domesticated pet pussies don’t have to hunt and have easy access to food and treats. As a result, cats are consuming more energy than they can burn off.
With this in mind, Pavarotti’s new pals at Kitty City hit upon an ingenious but simple way to get him to exercise more. And it was just a bit of feline feng shui in his living quarters. “His water and food are [placed] on opposite ends [of his enclosure]. He will get some walking in that way,” a spokesperson said.
Although shelter staff were keen for Pavarotti to exert himself more, they were also mindful of keeping him safe. Since obesity can cause undue stress on joints in the legs and spine, they wanted to prevent Pavarotti doing more harm than good. “His cat trees are low to the ground. So he doesn’t hurt his legs or suffer a fracture jumping from high distances,” the spokesperson added.
And Pavarotti had a long way to go before his legs would be back to a normal strength. “Just jumping off the vet table yesterday and walking to the door, his legs were shaking like crazy,” the shelter representative said. But, they added, “his special pre-measured metabolic food should help.”
When he checked in to Kitty City, Pavarotti weighed in at a whopping 25 pounds. Sanctuary staff were looking for the big boy to drop ten pounds before he could be qualified as healthy. But the key was to take things slowly with the moggie’s weight reduction. After all, the last thing they wanted was to shock Pavarotti’s system.
“We don’t want to start drastic or have him hungry. So, we will follow vet’s direction and add in his exercise,” the Kitty City spokesperson said. “Also, vet said to get his back shaved as it is greasy and itchy since Pavarotti can’t clean himself much, it may help with the itchiness he has. A bath is also in order. Baby steps!”
However, it wasn’t just physical help that Pavarotti needed. The poor pussy required emotional support too. But, luckily for him, there was more than enough love to go around at Kitty City. And, when one of the organization’s supporters donated a crocheted blanket, the snuggly item helped him settle right in.
“It’s just what Pavarotti needed to feel just a little bit more at home,” a staff member explained. “He has been quite depressed. He has had a lot of changes in the last month from sitting in the pound for over a month, to a new home, to a new adjusted food. It’s a lot to take in.”
Thanks to the expert care offered by Triple H’s Kitty City sanctuary, Pavarotti soon felt happier and healthier. Now the tom cat enjoys nothing more than cuddling up to his carers. And although there will be less of him to love in the future, that won’t mean the pussycat will be any less adored.