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California

Biggie the 37-pound cat has some big problems in Riverside

There are big cats, and then there are big cats. At 37 pounds, Biggie would be the latter.

His former owner was unable to care for him and all his medical issues, so Biggie was turned over to the Riverside Cat Hospital on Saturday, constipated and breathing heavily.

“As a vet, I have never heard of a cat this heavy,” the hospital’s veterinarian, Nichole Agarwal, said.

She adopted the cat and named him after the late East Coast rapper Notorious B.I.G. Now, Agarwal is dealing with the issue of how to get Biggie calmed down enough to start a badly needed weight-loss program.

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Normally, the cat should tip the scales at 12 pounds, she said.

Biggie’s former owner was apparently working long hours, and couldn’t look after the 12-year-old cat. And like many pet owners, Agarwal said she wanted to make sure he had everything he needed, so she likely overfed him.

Unfortunately for Biggie, his weight skyrocketed and his health suffered.

Breathing is now a challenge because his heart is surrounded by fat, Agarwal said.

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Biggie also suffers from severe constipation, exacerbating his ability to breathe while also causing so much aching that he requires painkillers.

Even weighing him at the hospital was a challenge since there wasn’t a scale large enough to hold him, Agarwal said.

Not helping matters is the fact that Biggie, perhaps understandably, isn’t a happy camper. As of Monday, he has yet to even meow, an indication that he is stressed, Agarwal said.

“I am worried about him,” she said. “He is very stressed out.”

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There is a sense of urgency, given the dangers of pet obesity.

In 2007, Meow the cat wowed with his 39-pound frame after he was turned in to a shelter in Santa Fe, N.M. But he died of lung failure, his body unable to support what experts said was the equivalent of a man weighing more than 600 pounds.

And Little Dude, a 33-pound cat from Costa Mesa, died just days after he was taken in by a foster home with the goal of getting his weight down.

Surprisingly, Biggie moves quickly for his size, Agarwal said. When she took the cat home Sunday night, she said he ran upstairs and throughout her home (although he couldn’t fit under most her furniture).

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But as with all weight-loss plans, it will take more than just exercise. Biggie will be put on a strict high-protein, low-carb diet and medication to relieve his constipation.

“It will be a challenge to get him to a healthy weight,” Agarwal said.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.


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