Meow, the 39-pound cat whose weight struggles captivated the nation, has died of lung failure, the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society has stated. According to reports, Meow was the largest cat in the United States, and the Humane Society was trying to help him lose weight; unfortunately, he passed away before he could be healthy again.
"We are devastated," Mary Martin, executive director of the Humane Society told USA Today. "We were in a race against time to get the weight off Meow…and we lost."
Friends brought the tabby cat to the shelter after his older owner could not take care of him. It is unknown how he gained so much weight so quickly; a number of tests did not show anything abnormal, except his weight, which fell into the category of morbid obesity.
Meow had started losing weight thanks to a new diet and activity, Martin explained, but he began having difficulty breathing and was put on oxygen. Unfortunately his lungs simply gave out.
"Meow had been doing so well in his foster home, walking up stairs and seeking affection," the Humane Society posted on its Facebook page. "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."
Most cats generally weigh only seven to 10 pounds, but Meow's hefty 39 pounds would be like a grown man weighing more than 600 pounds, veterinarians have said. Meow's story led to an awareness of animal obesity, and actress Alison Sweeney of "The Biggest Loser" has also helped the cause.
She has famously put her own pet, a dog named Winky, on a diet: "She was a little big overweight, and I had talked to my vet about it and we put her on the Science Diet weight loss program and she now is totally fit and chases me around the house with so much energy," Sweeney told Fox News.
"It's just amazing how you can get your pets healthy, how it changes their whole life and how different you can interact with them. I love seeing the results of how it affected our whole family, and we got everybody on board. It makes me so happy," she raved.