Fat Cat Tiny Tim's Future Uncertain After Cancer Diagnosis

PHOTO: Tiny Tim has been dieting since he was rescued around Christmas in 2011 in Houston, Tex. He weighed in a 35.2 pounds when he was rescued and is now down to 28.6 pounds.Courtesy Southside Place Animal Hospital
Tiny Tim has been dieting since he was rescued around Christmas in 2011 in Houston, Tex. He weighed in a 35.2 pounds when he was rescued and is now down to 28.6 pounds.

Tiny Tim, Houston's beloved overweight cat who was recently diagnosed with cancer, will be coming home tonight but his future is still uncertain.

"We won't tell him [he has cancer] and we'll keep him positive and happy until the cancer makes him not happy," said Dr. Alice Frei of the Southside Place Animal Hospital. "If his life is miserable then we'll put him to sleep... We'll do what's good for Tiny. That's all he'll know."

Frei, who has monitored Tiny's progress since he was brought in over a year ago, announced on Tiny's Facebook fan page, "Tiny Tim at Spah," on Thursday that the 27.5-pound feline was rushed to Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine for treatment after SPAH staff noticed his right front elbow was swollen and initial pathology results showed cancer. A&M veterinarians confirmed the pathologist's findings, and "said the cancer was so rapidly growing that they could not define the cell of origin."

Frei today told ABCNews.com that she got the call from A&M around noon saying Tiny's CAT scan came back clear, meaning the "aggressive cancer" found in his elbow did not spread to his lungs, which could have proved fatal.

But A&M veterinarians still can't define the cancer cells and want to do more tests on enlarged lymph nodes found under his arm before deciding if the cat needs surgery.

"It's more waiting," Frei said. "I really feel like it's a family member with cancer and the waiting is really hard."

The news of Tiny's cancer this week has taken a heavy emotional toll on Frei, who said she spent the morning "cleaning the clinic and driving my staff crazy" while waiting for A&M's call. Frei said she "fell down on the floor crying" when she heard the news.

"I keep telling myself, 'Tiny doesn't know [he has cancer],'" she said. "He just knows he missed a day of food...and is getting lots of attention."

Tiny's treatment options still remain to be seen. It's possible Tiny will have his leg amputated and then he could be outfitted with a wheelchair device. Frei said they don't know yet if that is still an option.

"I feel so strange saying I'm hoping he'll lose his leg," Frei said. "[But] you don't want to do anything that might his life harder."

Tiny, who is about 9 years old, gained national attention for his "super sweet" disposition, overweight figure and subsequent strict diet and exercise plan.

"He's got a lot of friends," Frei said. "He's a pretty happy cat."

When he first arrived at the animal hospital around Christmas 2011, Tiny weighed a whopping 35.2 pounds, but tests showed he was otherwise healthy. When a search for his owner proved unsuccessful, the hospital took him in as a permanent resident -- provided he'd lose weight.

Since then, he has been fed a precise 307 calories per day. Tiny's doctors make sure Tiny exercises by carrying him to the front of the clinic at least three times a day so he has to walk the 50 feet back to his room for meals.

While the beloved cat's future remains uncertain, the SPAH staff is devoted to making sure Tiny is comfortable and will see what happens.

"He would happily eat more, but, you know, if the leg comes off we will continue his weight loss," Frei said. "We just have to wait. Swallow down the fear and just wait."