An obese cat made famous by Anderson Cooper has died days after appearing on his show, though Cooper is not being blamed.
Meow, a 37-pound cat from Santa Fe who was looking for a home, appeared on Anderson Cooper (literally) last week but died on Saturday due to respiratory problems.
The Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society posted the news on their Facebook page:
The respiratory distress that Meow was experiencing last week (the reason we did not do his weigh-in) took his life at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 5. The Shelter staff – along with all those who met Meow during his short time with us – mourn his passing. As many of you are aware, Meow began wheezing last Thursday in his foster home, Dr. Jen began trying to sort out the problem, at first considering the possibility of asthma associated with his weight. She started treatment immediately to ease his breathing and, when Meow didn’t improve, she sought additional help for him from our emergency specialty hospital and an additional private veterinary hospital. Although four different veterinarians worked with Meow, we were unable to stop the progression of what turned out to be pulmonary failure. Meow had been doing so well in his foster home; walking up stairs and seeking affection – that it is so very hard to believe he is gone. We will forever be grateful for the attention Meow’s size brought to pet obesity and to animal shelters across the country.
The animal center’s statement hints at the real story behind the snarky comments about Meow’s weight. But Catster News Editor JaneA Kelley got the real story.
Kelly interviewed the daughter of Meow’s former elderly owner. Marie Stewart’s mother had rescued Meow and when she found him he was already obese.
Six months after Marie’s mother found him, he developed an infection and was put on a special urinary tract health cat food. But he was never fed it in excess, never the ‘hot dog diet’ that Kristen Johnston assumed on Anderson Cooper, and the daughter says that vets told her mother that he was ‘just a big kitty.’
Marie recalls that Meow would spend a lot of time with the family dog and that on one visit, “imagine my amazement when I saw Meow dart after the dog. I didn’t know he could move that fast!”
Meow would be Marie’s mother’s constant companion.
“When she was in the bedroom he was with her; when she was in the living room he was with her — he was always somewhere he could see her,” Marie said. “He even climbed into her bed (by way of a footstool) and sat on her feet, which she loved because her feet were always cold.”
When Marie’s mother’s sister died, Meow had to go to the animal shelter — and they reassured her that the cat wasn’t unheathy, just fat: “They did bloodwork and he doesn’t have diabetes or any of those other diseases.”
Meow was on a weight loss program consisting of a diet of low-carbohydrate, high-protein food and as much exercise as he could tolerate.
“He was just a godsend. He was meant to be out there and touch people’s lives. People are saying to me, ‘I used to look at fat people and make remarks, but now I understand.’”
So now you know: Meow was not an abused, neglected and deliberately overfed cat. He was cared for by two women who loved him deeply and who would have done anything they could to make Meow’s life better. They may not have known everything that some of us “cat nerds” do about diet, nutrition, or working with a vet, but that doesn’t make them bad people.
They tried. They gave this unwanted cat a home where he was loved and cared for, where he got to enjoy dog friends as well as human friends. That’s a hell of a lot more than he’d have gotten if he’d been forced to fend for himself.
Please exercise some compassion and try to understand this family’s situation. They deserve it — and so does Meow.
Watch Anderson and Kristen Johnston meet Meow – note Meow was five years old, not two:
Photo credit: Screengrab from Anderson Cooper