Fat Cat Tries Diet

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

By Colleen Supan | Posted: July 2, 2014, 10 a.m. EDT

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Man Cuts Open Truck for Kitten
Sumo, a 32-pound cat, is seen here doing what she does best — relaxing. Photos courtesy of Tanya Boland
Man Cuts Open Truck for Kitten
Seen here with nurse Tanya Bolan’s daughter, Aislynne, Sumo gets used to his new family. 
Man Cuts Open Truck for Kitten
RSPCA nurse Tanya took Sumo home and put him on a strict diet of low-calorie dry food.
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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Reader Comments

Jennifer    Morgantown, OH

7/3/2014 10:05:00 AM

It's not always easy to maintain a cat's healthy weight, especially in multiple cat households. It would be great if a manufacturer could come up with a feeder/dispenser that would recognize an individual cat (perhaps based on a collar chip when he/she approaches the feeder) then delivers, throughout a set time period, a measured amount of food. That would allow owners to have two or more feeders, each set to the specific amount of food needed for that specific cat.

Perhaps it would be helpful for those in multi-cat households in which one or more cats is obese would be to feed the cats at set times during the day, separating them and feeding them in separate places (to avoid the bigger cats from grazing on the healthier cat's rations)

The other suggestion I have is to help the bigger kitties get a bit more exercise. This website offers a great "how to get started" guide on walking cats with a harness and leash. LINK

TJF    Miami, FL

7/2/2014 8:50:29 PM

I have found that feeding a good high quality 'wet' food is a better alternatives than the carb-loaded dry food, to lose weight. Just a suggestion.

Jeannette    International

7/2/2014 11:13:05 AM

Dear Cat Channel, I have 5 cats and one is a very overweight kitty, she is 4 yrs old. She was fine the first 2 yrs, I never had a feeding schedule, all the cats ate when they were hungry. In the past year she has been eating alot. I have tried feeding everyone in a separate dish at the same time, some would eat and not others and as soon as one of the other cats leave their plates she would sneak up and eat theirs or wait until I'm not looking to swat them away. I do not know what else to do. If there is an easy way to this dilemma please write a suggestive article about it. Thank you

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