Meet a really, really fat cat
Meet Symba, a really really - really - fat cat.
Weighing in at 35 pounds, this feline is at the Humane Rescue Alliance in D.C. and is need of a home.
Staffers of the humane rescue group posed with the 6-year-old fat cat and posted the pictures on social media.
In their post, they wrote, staff "has seen a lot - but we've never seen a 35 pound cat!" The cat is available for adoption at its New York Avenue location in Washington, D.C.
The Humane Rescue Alliance told Symba's story:
The fat feline came last week to the facility. Officials said his owner moved to an assisted living center and couldn't bring Symba with him.
The cat's owner told the staff over the phone that Symba weighed nearly 40 pounds. The staff was surprised to hear that weight and "thought surely he must be overestimating," they said in a blog that now tracks Symba's life and new weight loss program.
But when Symba came to the humane rescue site, he hit the scales and weighed in at 35 pounds. (The humane rescue staff put an ! after announcing his weight.)
Staff described Symba as a "handsome fellow, with his sweet face and mellow disposition."
Because of his obesity, Symba was given a detailed checkup, including a blood glucose test. It came back normal. But he's about 15 pounds overweight so the alliance's medical team said he is at an "increased risk of health complications."
The average domestic house cat should ideally weigh between eight and 10 pounds, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
Once he got settled at the shelter, the staff at the alliance got Symba on basically the cat version of "The Biggest Loser," a TV show that tracks people's weight loss in a contest.
"It's difficult for him to walk at the moment, so staff are focusing on improving his diet and starting his physical activity slowly," the staff said in its blog.
Symba's new diet involves two-thirds of a cup of food every 12 hours. And similar to all the tips given to overweight humans trying to diet, Symba is fed from a "food puzzle," a device that is meant to slow down how a cat eats.
Lisa Stemcosky, a behavior and training specialist at the alliance, said that allowing cats to "free feed" where their food bowl is kept full throughout the day contributes to obesity.
And just like humans, Symba has to exercise. He is starting a "short but consistent exercise routine."
"Right now, he can only take a few steps at a time without getting short of breath," staff said. For now, he's being encouraged to "learn to walk on a 'cat wheel.'"
In a video put on YouTube, Symba is shown trying the cat wheel with the help of a humane rescue worker.
He takes a few steps, licks his lips and then steps off. It doesn't appear that he likes it too much.
"From now on, it's just one foot in front of the other for sweet Symba," the staff said on the blog.
Good luck, Symba. Richard Simmons would be proud.