He answers to Little Dude. But this 33-pound feline is Garfield times 10. He is so large that he can’t walk a few steps without turning blue.
His vet can barely hear his heartbeat through the layers of fat. His breathing is raspy. His leg muscles are mushy like Jell-O.
If he were human, Little Dude would be labeled “morbidly obese” and probably carted away from his home by a forklift, said Cortney Dorney with WAGS Pet Adoption in Westminster where Little Dude arrived two weeks ago.
“This is what happens when a cat has 10 years of bad eating habits,” she said
And that may have saved Little Dude’s life.
He was 36 pounds when he arrived, twice the weight of a healthy cat. He wouldn’t fit into a cat cage. So, the shelter brought out a large pen where he could lie comfortably.
On Thursday, he was taken to Angela Jackson-Brunning’s Costa Mesa foster home, where he will stay until he is adopted.
“The sad thing is he did not choose to become this way,” Jackson-Brunning said, tearing up.
Ever since he got to WAGS, Little Dude has been placed on a strict diet. But, here’s the rub: He doesn’t like diet food.
So, he’s stopped eating, losing three pounds in just a week. And that’s not good for him either, because he shouldn’t lose more than one pound every two weeks, Dorney said.
“In my 20 years in this business, I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said.
Now, ironically, the cat has a feeding tube to make sure his vital organs get essential nutrients. It could take up to six months for Little Dude to return to a healthy weight, Dorney said.
Despite his struggles, Little Dude is developing a solid fan base on Facebook. The page Jackson-Brunning started last week, titled “A BIG Little Dude,” already has 1,648 likes from admirers worldwide.
It’s already helped raise about $600, which will go toward his medical expenses. But WAGS will need about $5,000 to keep him going until he reaches his healthy weight, Dorney said.
Meanwhile, he is waiting to go to a loving home, to a family that understands he is a “special needs cat,” she said.
Jackson-Brunning has also started a campaign on Facebook to change his name. Little Dude, to her, just doesn’t seem right, and she wants him to have a fresh start.
So far, she likes the name Augie, short for St. Augustine of Hippo, who turned to spirituality and the good life after years of drinking, partying and gluttony.