Mr. Mix arrived at the SPCA of Hancock County in late February 2018. He was thirteen years old and weighed 22.5 pounds. Mr. Mix was not a giant Maine Coon cat, though – he was severely overweight. He had become diabetic, and he had trouble moving around because of his weight. Mr. Mix had been eating in his home before he was surrendered – after all, he had to gain that weight somehow – but he was too stressed at the shelter to eat.
It’s dangerous for a cat to go very long without eating, even if they have substantial fat stores. We tried all kinds of foods, from extra aromatic cat food to plain cooked chicken. Sometimes Mr. Mix would take a bite or two, but he would not eat enough to reduce his risk of fatty liver disease. We had been in close contact with the veterinarian, and it seemed likely that the best way to help Mr. Mix was to get him out of the shelter and into a home as soon as possible so that he could de-stress enough to eat on his own.
We posted this picture on Facebook and asked our community for help:
A wonderful community member stepped in and offered to foster Mr. Mix. She took him home and got him settled in. Sure enough, with plenty of attention and a place to live that felt like home, Mr. Mix began to eat again. His foster family read up on how to manage diabetic cats, how to feed a species-appropriate diet to help overweight cats lose weight safely, and attended to Mr. Mix’s every need. Three months later, in late May, they returned to the shelter to officially adopt Mr. Mix! He weighed five pounds less, and we could see from the pictures that he had a new sparkle in his eyes.
We asked some questions as Mr. Mix’s new owner was finalizing his adoption.
How soon could you see changes in Mr. Mix’s condition?
“He would eat a little bit on his own in the beginning, but it was a week or two before his appetite really picked up. At first he would not eat the same food twice in a row, so I just kept switching the cans each day. He eats 1 ⅓ can of high protein wet food every day now. He has lost five pounds, and his diabetes has gone into remission! He no longer needs insulin at all.”
Why did you choose to foster Mr. Mix?
“I saw him on Facebook. I didn’t have any plans to foster a cat, but there was just something about him. I thought, “I can help this cat.” So I talked with my family, and we decided to foster him.”
Would you recommend fostering a special needs cat?
“Yes! I just did a lot of reading and research. Now he doesn’t even seem like a special needs cat to me, because I know what he needs to be comfortable and healthy. I definitely recommend fostering special needs animals.”
Now that he’s feeling better, what is Mr. Mix’s favorite thing?
“Cardboard scratchers! He goes to town on them. At first I got one just to see if he’d be interested, and now we have two because he loves them so much. Sometimes I put catnip on it, and he loves that a lot, too.”