Samantha Hearn, The Tennessean
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - When photographer Penny Adams went to Metro Animal Care & Control to volunteer on Aug. 2, the last thing she expected to find was a 31.4-pound cat named Buddha.
"I volunteer my time there as a photographer," she said. "I went there on Friday and saw him for the first time, and when I went back on Tuesday he was still there. I saw him in his little cage and I just thought, 'You know, that's not good for him.'
"He was an owner surrender. There had been a death in the family and they weren't able to continue caring for him."
Adams decided to take Buddha with her to The Cat Shoppe on Bransford Avenue, a pet store that doubles as a retail shop and adoption center, where he will undergo a diet program to put him at a normal weight.
"We tried to give him the gastrointestinal food, the metabolic food, but he didn't like it," said Chris Achord, owner of The Cat Shoppe. "Whoever owned him before must have been feeding him human food, and that is not good at all for a cat's health. I've been rescuing animals for over 25 years and I've never seen anything like this."
Achord contacted Elm Hill Veterinary Clinic about Buddha's weight and was told to take his weight loss slowly to avoid health problems.
"A pound a month is our goal," she said. "In a year hopefully he'll be down to 19 or 20 pounds. It's going to be hard, though."
According to petMD.com, rapid weight loss in obese cats can lead to problems like feline hepatic lipidosis, a potentially fatal disorder that affects the liver.
"We definitely have to take it slow," said Adams. "Sometimes these cases don't end very well - they can even end up having heart failure. He's six years old. We want him to have a long, happy life."
Buddha will stay at The Cat Shoppe until he is down to a healthy weight, and he will then be adopted out to the right family.
"It's just really sad because he can't even clean himself," said Achord. "We're going to be working with Animalia in Franklin with the exercise program. We want to make sure we do it right."