Buddha the Tennessee cat weighs 31 pounds
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Garfield isn't the only fat cat who's been shoving in the pasta.
A cat in Tennessee -- named Buddha -- weighs in at 31 pounds. He's being forced off his love for spaghetti at an animal shelter.
Then there's Albert, who also showed up at an animal shelter this week in Phoenix weighing in at 28 pounds.
The chubby pair of cats are getting national attention because of their obesity. Albert and Buddha are each at more than twice the weight of a normal cat, and they are part of the majority: 58% of cats are overweight, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
"Our cats aren't the ones who are going to the fridge and making themselves a sandwich," said Dr. Karyl Ropko, a veterinarian at the Northeast Cat and Dog Hospital.
Ropko says she sees cats almost as big as Albert and Buddha almost daily. There was a 23 pound sick cat in the hospital Wednesday.
She says it's up to owners to pay attention to portion control.
"For a normal mature cat, 2/3 to 3/4 a cup a day is all they need," she says.
According to information compiled by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, most dry cat food contains 300 to 600 calories per cup, with the "light" and kitten varieties on the low end. Three ounce cans of wet food carries less than 100 calories on average.
"Our cats are pretty lazy, they sleep about 17 hours a day, they wake up for four to five hours to find the food bowl, then find their litter box to play for five minutes and they're back to sleep again, so they're not burning calories," says Ropko.
That brings in the other important factor. Just like humans, cats' metabolisms differ.
"I tend to call it the fat gene. Cats who have problems where their bodies just won't burn calories off," she says.
To help, Dr. Ropko says to get your cat moving with the cat toys, and quit letting him or her lick the dinner plate. And, the vet says, definitely no treats.
Ropko says cats also love chasing laser beams, and that treat balls are a good way to give food to pets. She says put the right amount of food in a treat ball, and your cat has to bounce it around to get the food out.