Lasagna, the 30-pound abandoned cat who captured the hearts of Philadelphians this week, is set to go to a loving home on Thursday.
ACCT Philly, the city’s animal care and control team, said hundreds of inquiries poured in about the domestic short-haired cat on Wednesday after her photo was shared on its social media and a local news program told her story. In less than 24 hours, the plump feline was adopted.
While Lasagna — who is technically 29.5 pounds — is no longer on the market, ACCT is hoping people who were interested in her will adopt or foster one of their 129 other cats, including at least one who weighs in at more than 20 pounds.
“When a lot of people are interested in one animal, you kind of feel bad for the others,” who can sit in the shelter for weeks or more, said Sarah Barnett, ACCT’s director of development and communications. “Our hope is everyone who wants Lasagna, or maybe a third of them, will come in and adopt, or know that we’re here when they’re ready.”
The organization takes in more cats than dogs each year, she said, but cats are adopted less frequently. On social media, users interact with ACCT’s dog posts more than the cat ones, she said. Lasagna was the notable exception, in part because of her portliness.
She even caught the attention of the folks at Stouffer’s, the maker of frozen meals. In a tweet Thursday, they offered to give lasagna to Lasagna’s new owners and the ACCT staff.
People are enamored with overweight cats, Barnett said, often overlooking the potential for serious health consequences.
“I think it’s something people think is really cute, which it is. She’s adorable,” Barnett said of Lasagna. “But it’s not healthy, so don’t let your cat get this fat. ”
An estimated 60% of cats in America were overweight as of 2018. As in humans, obesity in cats can lead to problems such as diabetes and osteoarthritis. It may also contribute to kidney issues, breathing problems, emotional distress, and difficulty grooming themselves.
Although weights can vary by body type, feline experts say the average weight for a female domesticated cat ranges from 7 to 10 pounds.
Lasagna, who was abandoned Sunday, doesn’t show any clinical signs of diabetes, Barnett said, but she does have a stiff gait — uncommon for her age, which is estimated to be 5 or 6 years old — and has trouble grooming herself. And though her demeanor is sweet, “she probably isn’t feeling too well" due to the discomfort of carrying excess weight.
When ACCT staff was sifting through the hundreds of requests about Lasagna, they made sure her new owners would be serious about helping her lose weight under the supervision of a veterinarian.
Experts suggest owners use a vet-approved nutrition plan, perhaps incorporating a mix of good-quality wet and dry food in four to five small meals a day, and exercise their overweight cats with physical and sensory stimulation.
Barnett said Lasagna’s new owners are ready to get her healthy. She wasn’t sure whether they planned to change her name — which, yes, was inspired by Garfield.
As for the hundreds of other enthusiastic families who wanted to bring Lasagna home with them, Barnett said she plans to track whether they’ll adopt another cat from ACCT.
“There are people who just want to adopt a cat because she’s fat and cute,” she said, but hopefully they’ll consider healthier cats, too.
The Feltonville shelter is open for walk-in adoptions from 10 a.m. to noon every day, and adoptions are also available by appointment outside those hours. Due to the coronavirus, masks are required and capacity is limited. If animal lovers aren’t yet ready to adopt, Barnett said, they can also donate to help ACCT rescue cats and dogs in need in Philadelphia.