I often think that my Maine Coon mix, Mr. Purple, is a big cat, but all his majestic fluff is rather deceiving. He is certainly bigger boned and larger than the average housecat thanks to his breed. But he pales in comparison to one cat living in New York named Barsik. This loving boy weighs a whopping 41 pounds! For now….
He and his house cat mate were surrendered last week to the Animal Care Centers of New York City.
Sadly, their family moved and were no longer able to keep their two felines. The shelter received the 41 pound cat Barsik and his sister, Sukie. Thankfully, she only weighed in at 13 pounds.
“When Barsik was in the shelter, they couldn’t put him in one of the kennels because he was too big. He’s so large that he can’t do a whole lot about people touching him in ways he does not want,” said Angelique Iuzzolino, Barsik’s current foster mom.
From there, the two were taken into care by the Anjellicle Cats Rescue, a local no-kill, all-volunteer, non-profit 503(c) rescue.
Iuzzolino specializes in finding her foster cats furever homes.
But first on Barsik’s list of to-do things is slimming down so that he can have a better quality of life.
“He’s probably one of the biggest cats alive right now, as far as we know,” Barsik’s foster mom, Angelique Iuzzolino, told TODAY. “I was posting about him on my personal account, but then he started to get a lot of attention.”
Barsik still has his former housemate, Sukie, by his side. Together, he learns to navigate his new life in his temporary home.
“When I first let Barsik out into our bedroom, he immediately tried to hide,” Iuzzolino said. “We let him decompress for a few hours. When we got back, we started petting him a bit and he relaxed.”
Although many have come forward looking to provide Big Barsik with a forever home, it’s best for him to find eventually find a home where his best cat friend, Sukie, can come along. Also, the ideal living situation for him would be in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, with a family that understands his need to shed much of that extra weight he’s been carrying around for good.
“There are a lot of people who like the way he looks. They like fat cats,” says Iuzzolino. “He needs to live with someone who wants to help make sure he is doing OK and is losing (weight) at a safe pace.”
As Barsik adjusts to his new life, he’s been reportedly sweet and calm.
But one thing that Barsik’s potential owners might want to know? This is not a cat that enjoys being held: “We tried to pick him up once,” Iuzzolino said. “And that was a big no!”
“The biggest cat I’ve personally seen was 27 pounds. I was a bit shocked when I first saw Barsik in person. He’s not just an average-sized cat who is overweight, he is large all over as well, from head-to-tail. This makes for some other challenges. Like how to transport him safely for both him and I. And a proper litter box that can accommodate his size and mobility limitations…” says Iuzzolino.
Thankfully Barsik is in good hands until he finds that special someone to call his human. Iuzzolino has been caring for him as if he were her own. His most recent trip to the vet required some special accommodations, as your average cat carrier would be a no-go for this plump feline. That’s when Barsik got his very own set of wheels–a stroller!
Despite Barsik’s obvious obesity, it’s reported that he is a “picky eater” when it comes to mealtime.
Typical cat for you, right? Well, actually there is much more to it. If you’re curious how a picky-eating cat found himself at such a weight, it is speculated that this comes as a result of an endocrine or congenital disease, according to Veterinarian Jeanne Klafin.
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Foster Mom had a very long talk with Dr. Klafin today from @animalgeneralnyc. They have a plan in place now for my diet, but Foster Mom needs some time to type it up from her notes. All but one of my test results came back though, and this is the easy part! The short story is – I’m healthy as a horse! Hmm, probably the wrong analogy here ? I have absolutely no signs of diabetes, my kidneys are fine, and while my thyroid tests are “the low end of normal,” they are still normal. The one test outstanding is a very specialized thyroid test that takes a few days to come back. Once it does, Dr. Klafin will speak with one of the best feline endocrinologists in the country just to get his opinion so we aren’t missing anything.
So it’s very good news for me! BUT both the vet and Foster Mom were hoping it was a medical cause that could be fixed and not the result of just negligent ownership…so there’s that. But no matter, I’m in good hands now and I’m on my way! #catweightloss #anjelliclecats #cats #catsofinstagram #adoptdontshop #rescuecats #fosteringsaveslives #fostercat #catsofnyc
Since being surrendered on April 6th, Barsik is down one pound, but up nearly 9k Instagram followers!
His foster mom started him his own account so his fans can track his weight loss journey. Then everyone can be purrpared once he’s ready to go to his new home–with whoever could be so lucky to have him.
If you want to keep up with Barsik, you can find him on Instagram @BigBarsik.
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Foster Mom here. As I mentioned previously, we do have at least the basic outline of a diet plan in place for him. KEEP IN MIND – This is all based on Barsik’s weight, history, and health; any diet plan for an overweight cat should be tailored to them. I am writing this from hasty notes I scribbled so I hope I articulate all this properly, but it’s only meant for you to get an idea of our approach. Dr. Klafin believes that Barsik’s ideal weight would be between 15-20lbs.
The goal will be to eventually get him eating “maintenance” calories for a 17-pound-cat (which is ~310 calories per day), but we are talking over the course of MONTHS to get to that point. It’s going to be a slow process but it is ultimately the safest way to go about it. All of these steps will be done slowly and with careful communication with his vet. Any resistance or refusal to eat means halting and getting comfortable again before moving forward. We don’t have a set schedule for his next appt – we will find a way to weigh him at home and monitor his progress that way. If he doesn’t eat enough for even a couple days, we will check his liver labs ASAP.
The plan is: 1. Monitor exactly what he is eating consistently for the next week or 2 before making any changes. We need to know EXACTLY how many calories he is eating now; he could still be in a stressful state so we want to know what he is normally eating without any other factors. 2. I was advised by a vet friend to give him kitten food for higher protein before this appt; while Dr. Klafin agreed with that approach to begin with, we need to get him off of the kitten kibble and onto adult kibble (which is lower calorie). 3. He is currently eating Friskies pate wet food (THIS IS ALL HE WILL EAT RIGHT NOW); we will transition him to Friskies indoor wet (fewer calories but the same volume to keep him physically full). 4. Wean off dry food completely if possible. 5. Possibly onto Hill’s W/D Rx food in the future – this is low-calorie and has some urinary and metabolic advantages. This is an open-ended conversation because I’d personally rather not have him on Rx food. But we would still get him onto a better quality wet food.
We wish Barsik the very best of success in his journey to slim down and find a forever home, and we’re grateful to his devoted foster mom to help get him there.
REMEMBER: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP; FOSTERING SAVES LIVES & SPAY AND NEUTER!
Related Story: (New Update!) Dieting Fat Cat Losing Weight Successfully But Can’t Find Her Forever Home; Returned To Shelter for 4th Time!Related Story: Bronson, the 33-Pound Polydactyl Cat, Finds Purrfect Adopters To Help Document His Weight Loss!
Yes, I admit I’ve made the mistake of free feeding and have two obese cats. Even one has diabetes. I’m so ashamed. Granted there is improvement, it is not easy and it is slow going. It sounds like Barsik is in good foster care and things are looking up (down in size though). I wish Barsik and his foster mom the best of luck with the weight challenge and finding his new furever home.