Meet Buddha, a Very Fat Cat Who’s on a Diet

When found at an animal shelter, he was twice the weight of an average cat. Now the Tennessee kitty is on a "cat food only" diet and even walking on a treadmill

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Courtesy of Penny Adams

And we thought trying to slim down was just for humans! A Nashville cat — aptly named Buddha — is on a diet after being discovered at an animal shelter weighing a whopping 31.4 lb., more than twice the weight of an average feline.

When volunteer photographer Penny Adams found him at an animal shelter in Nashville, after his previous owner died, Buddha was not in good shape. “He took up most of the cage,” Adams told TIME. “I’ve never seen a cat that large. He’s like a giant pillow.” She immediately wanted to rescue him: the big guy was only 6 years old — in his prime for a cat. “I was concerned that either he would be put down because of his age and special needs, or that he would be adopted out to someone who wouldn’t provide his special care that he needs to get healthy.”

Now Buddha is alive and well at The Cat Shoppe, the animal-rescue organization where Adams volunteers, and where she and the owner, Chris Achord, are helping him lose weight, get healthy and eventually find a new home. Vets have told them he should be losing about a pound a month, and they hope he’ll be down to about 20 lb. in a year.

The black-and-white Buddha is on a “cat-food-only diet,” and it’s been quite a challenge weaning him off his beloved human food — which is what his last owner was probably feeding him, said Achord. “We’re trying to get him off the tuna, anything with fish. That’s not good for him.”

An exercise regimen was in order as well: the previously sedentary cat has been walking on a special water treadmill at Animalia Wellness, a veterinary hospital. Plus, Adams said, at The Cat Shoppe there aren’t too many cages, and cats are allowed to roam the store so customers can pet and play with them. “It’s great for a cat because it helps them get socialized,” Adams said. Achord added that he’s very friendly: “He talks to people and wants them to pet him.”

Two days ago, he weighed 29.1 lb.: a step in the right direction.

Once he sheds enough weight — in a year or so, Adams and Achord hope — it will be time to find Buddha a new adopted home. “All the cats we have are like family, but we’re really happy when we find a perfect home for them,” said Adams, adding that the Shoppe is very particular about adoptions and “makes sure they’re going to the right homes so they don’t end up on the streets again.”

Adams said you can donate to Buddha’s wellness on The Cat Shoppe website and monitor his weight-loss progress on its Facebook page.

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