Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Story has purr-fect ending for famous fat cat

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What with all the misery in the news and the weather forecasts, I suspect we could all use a heart-tugging tale with a happy ending.

So grab a box of tissues, kids, because today I'm going to share the upbeat final chapter in the saga of Eddie, Winnipeg's most famous fat cat.

Eddie's journey to stardom began back in March, when Free Press deputy editor Julie Carl asked her veterinarian, Dr. Pat Dorval, a partner at Tuxedo Animal Hospital, if she knew a fat cat we could feature in the Fit Pet Project, our once-a-month series on the issues surrounding portly pets.

Dr. Dorval turned to Quagga Stray Cat Rescue in St. Vital and -- VOILA! -- Eddie, a nine-year-old exceedingly tubby tabby became the star patient at the Corydon Avenue clinic. The idea was to see how much weight a house cat could safely lose in a controlled environment, then use the lessons learned to help other obese felines.

What no one predicted -- OK, maybe I had an inkling -- was that along with dropping weight, this slow-moving, belly rub-loving fat cat would also gain legions of adoring fans.

Since we started chronicling his weight-loss journey in the Fit Pet Project, this chunky homeless cat has been featured in local TV news segments, inspired calls from would-be adoptive owners across the country, and received dozens upon dozens of visits from passersby who popped into the Tuxedo clinic just to spend a few minutes stroking the flabby tabby.

'Him going to those people (Larry and Barb) is the best possible outcome. They are really dedicated to their cats'

-- veterinarian Dr. Pat Dorval

When he first checked in, Eddie tipped the scales at a whopping 23 pounds, whereas the ideal weight for a house cat is closer to 14 lbs. After a month and a half at the clinic -- thanks mostly to a prescription diet of wet food that is high in protein but low in calories -- Eddie was down to 20 lbs., five ounces.

That may not sound like much, but it's more than 10 per cent of his body weight, the equivalent of a 180-lb. man shedding 18 lbs. He would have lost even more if he hadn't "accidentally" found his way into an unguarded bag of dog food.

But the really good news is that along with losing weight, this furry media celebrity has also found a permanent home. I'd like to tell you Eddie and his adoptive owners found each other because of my heart-rending Fit Pet columns, but I would be lying.

What happened was local business owner Larry Jensen, who has run Michael Rodent's Bath & Kitchen Accessories at 562 Academy Rd. for the past 15 years, visited the clinic with Smokey, his 21-year-old tabby, who was experiencing a severe bout of (ahem) cat constipation.

While Larry sat patiently in the waiting room, Fat Eddie strolled to the door in the sunroom and began meowing, demanding Larry's attention.

"I think he was trying to tell me something," Larry purred on Tuesday as Eddie relaxed on a cat bed under a huge Superman mural on the wall of the Academy Road boutique, which is stuffed to the rafters with collectibles.

For Larry and Eddie, it was love at first sight.

"He's been in a shelter most of his life," Larry noted as Eddie prowled around the store, where he will be a semi-regular visitor when not guarding the Jensen family's home in Emerson. "He needs to have a permanent home, a permanent place where he can be happy."

Larry's wife, Barb, jumped at the chance to have Eddie join their brood -- which includes cats Smokey, 21, and Pacer, 9 -- and they quickly arranged his adoption, ensuring the pudgy puss had a week to say farewell to his family at the Tuxedo clinic, where there wasn't a dry eye the day Eddie waddled out the door.

"I'm happy Eddie lost weight, but I'm most happy he's got a good home," Dr. Dorval told me with a sigh.

"Him going to those people (Larry and Barb) is the best possible outcome. They are really dedicated to their cats.

"We would have liked to have kept him permanently, but it wouldn't have been the best life for him. A clinic is too busy and chaotic. It couldn't have turned out any better."

If you want to see how this famous fat feline is faring, just visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/eddiewinnipeg.

"We started up his own Facebook page so people can keep an eye on him," Larry chortled as Eddie jumped down from the cash-register desk, his bulky body landing gracefully on the floor.

"So many people were interested in him and upset they weren't going to see him, and I figured Eddie needed his own page so people can watch his progress losing weight and becoming a better cat."

So there's your happy ending, animal lovers.

And, please, let's all remember Eddie's healthy new motto: Sometimes you have to lose before you win!

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 7, 2014 A2

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