Here kitty, kitty..S.J. officials seek owner of 44-pound cat
By Dan Lieberman
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
There are fat cats and then there are fat cats.
South Jersey, to be sure, has seen its fair share of the indictable variety, but never before has it seen the likes of the portly pussycat found waddling in Voorhees.
Meet Princess Chunky -- all 44 pounds of her and just two pounds shy of the 1987 Guiness World Record for overweight cats.
Camden County Animal Control Officer Jim McCleery got the call Friday. There was a a stray cat prowling on a patio in the Ashley Run condominium development.
"We picked him up and I knew from the get-go it wouldn't fit in the regular cat carrier, so we had to put him in a dog carrier. . . it was a big cat, the biggest one this year," said McCleery of the Camden County Joint Municipal Animal Control Program.
Employees at Camden County Animal Shelter called the feline "Captain Chunk." Realizing she was female, the name was quickly changed to "Princess Chunk." Her "foster mom" -- shelter volunteer Deborah Wright -- calls her "Princess Chunky."
As the shelter seeks to find the feline's owner, Princess Chunky is now in "foster care" at Wright's Sicklerville home. She is fed only wet and dry cat food.
Wright is trying to develop an exercise routine for the orange-white, short-haired domestic cat, estimated to be about 4 years-old.
"I won't feed her table scraps because I have a funny feeling that's what it's been fed. The cat doesn't seem unhealthy at all. You can tell she is carrying weight, but I am going to start taking her out on walks but have to get a dog harness first," said Wright, who works as a driver assistant for the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Cherry Hill.
"She's bigger than my Yorkie dog," added Wright who is also currently caring for six other shelter animals - including a 40-pound cat named "Yanni" and feline named Bullseye who was injured by a b-b from an airgun.
Because of the media attention, Princess Chunky has preferred Wright's bathroom to roaming the home with the six other pets.
Wright and others speculate Princess Chunky may suffer from diabetes or a thyroid condition.
Weighing the cat on Saturday turned out to be quite an adventure, as shelter workers realized that the cat scale couldn't hold Chunky.
"Our cat scale only goes up to 25 pounds; the needle bounced off the machine, so they put her on the dog scale instead. I have been doing rescue for ten years and I've never seen anything like this in person," said Jennifer Anderch, the shelter's executive director.
Dennis Green, a librarian at the central branch of the Philadelphia Free Library, researched records on the fattest cat in the world. Green said the record is held by 46 pound, 15.25 ounce Himmy of Australia who was entered into the 1987 Guinness Book of World Records, the last year the organization had the weight category for cats. Himmy died of respiratory failure.
Veterinarians at the Camden County Animal Shelter will perform tests this weekend to see whether Princess Chunky's weight is due to a thyroid condition or diabetes. Tests have not been performed yet because of a seven-day holding period required by state law, where owners are given the opportunity to claim their pets.
"She is in good shape, she didn't have fleas, her coat is nice and soft, and is apparently well fed, so there is no cruelty in those terms, but I would assume a 44-lb cat has some kind of medical issue," said Anderch.
With the question looming as to where Princess Chunky came from, Wright offered a few theories.
"A lot of times people move and they just can't take their dogs or cats with them, or the cat got out, but I find that hard to believe. Maybe it was an elderly person who died. There are all kinds of reasons for what people do to their animals," she said.
Shelter staff is hoping that the owner of Princess Chunky comes forward soon. If no one claims her by Saturday, Anderch is confident that she will be adopted quickly.
"We have gotten several adoption applications, from five or six people already, and we are going through them now. We will choose the one that appears to be the best for her," said Anderch.
Anderch said the shelter does euthanize unclaimed pets -- 26.4 percent of the 10,500 brought to the shelter last year -- but in Princess Chunky's case, however, Anderch is sure that she will survive and have a good home.
"Chunky will get adopted, period. There is no other option for her. She is extra special," she said