Fat Cat Making the Media Rounds

New Jersey feline latest poster pet for obese animals.

Aug. 1, 2008 — -- He's fat. There's no other way around it.

Even his name, Prince Chunk, leaves little to the imagination. The now-famous New Jersey fat cat, who at 44 pounds is two pounds shy of the feline weight record, has been making the media rounds after being found on the streets, a victim of the foreclosure crisis.

Debbie Wright, who works with the Camden County Animal Shelter, told ABC News' Diane Sawyer that Prince Chunk eats normally, but will go in for a veterinary check-up soon.

Shelter workers have told The Associated Press that they are taking up to 15 calls an hour from people inquiring about the cat. He is scheduled to make an appearance at a Cherry Hill, N.J., adoption event next month.

But while Prince Chunk is a little more than portly -- Sawyer had to heave him into her lap-- he's certainly not the only animal in need of a weight-loss program.

Chum is a 5-year-old Labrador with a taste for pigs' ears. His owner, Sharon Best, and her three sons, showered him with too much love and fed him too many pigs' ears. Chum ballooned to 85 pounds.

British TV veterinarian Joe Inglis estimates that 60 percent of pets in the United Kingdom are overweight.

"I think it's the biggest health problem affecting our pets," he said.

Inglis launched a roadshow to raise awareness. He also launched a Website called Pets Get Slim, which offers helpful tips and awards prizes to top weight losers. Being fat is just as bad for dogs as it is for their owners. Inglis' message is: Do your pet a favor, and don't give in to a wagging tail.

Owners are "essentially killing their animals with kindness," said Claire Ponsford at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "It is ... a form of cruelty, and it is a prosecutable offense."

When the RSPCA discovered Rusty, a 161-pound Labrador, it took his owners to court. The judge likened poor old Rusty to a walrus, and fined his feeders $2,000.

Nothing so drastic for Chum. Just a strict diet. One bowl of dry biscuits a day.

"I didn't want to lose him before I had to," Best said.

It worked. Chum shed 11 pounds and is well on his way to his target weight of 62 pounds.

"And he's getting more playful as he's losing the weight," Best said. "He's happier."

So, how can you tell if your pooch is too portly?

If you can rest a drink on his broad back, if you can't see his ribs and, said Inglis, "If the pet hasn't got a nice clearly defined waist behind the ribs, that's another sign."

Also, fat dogs are listless and lazy. They chew bones but don't chase sticks.