The orange-and-white tabby was turned in to the Santa Fe, N.M., animal shelter last month and quickly made international headlines. At first, his story was played for laughs: The 2-year-old cat apparently favored hot dogs, and was so fat that he got stuck inside things. He barely fit into his animal carrier, and was likened to Puss in Boots from the "Shrek" movies.
But Meow's weight underscored a growing problem: Pets in America are getting fatter -- just like their owners -- and all that extra weight can hasten death.
That's what happened in Meow's case, said Mary Martin, executive director of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society. The shelter assumed care of Meow when his 87-year-old owner could no longer care for the mammoth feline.
"We are so heartbroken," Martin told the Los Angeles Times. "He had such a big personality. We all fell in love with him."
Ideally, Meow would have weighed 7 to 10 pounds. Carrying 39 pounds of weight on his feline frame was the equivalent of a man weighing more than 600 pounds, experts said. The shelter placed Meow in a foster home and put him on a strict, high-protein diet intended to knock off some weight before he could be adopted by a new owner. Publicized weigh-ins were planned as a way to highlight the problem of obesity in pets, as well as to drum up interest in pet adoptions.
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