PHOENIX -- The tubbiest tabby in Arizona is heading east to Gold Canyon to join another dieting feline at Companion Pet Clinic.
"Our little 36-pound bundle of joy is scheduled to leave MCACC today," Maricopa County Animal Care and Control spokeswoman Melissa Gable said in an email.
Weighing more than many toddlers, Meatball is the biggest cat Gable and most of the MCACC staff have ever seen in the fur.
Vets say weight aside, the 4-year-old feline appears to be in fairly good condition although he does appear to have glaucoma in his left eye. All of that extra weight he's carrying, however, is a major health issue.
Meatball is not the first MCACC animal to go to Companion Pet Clinic of Arizona, which specializes in working with animals that need ongoing medical attention and supervision. In fact, he'll be joining a 26-pound cat that MCACC sent to the Gold Canyon facility in November. Thanks to the team and Companion Pet, that cat is down 7 pounds, now weighing in at 19 pounds.
"We are happy that they are taking Meatball and that he will have a new feline friend that shares his condition! " Gable said.
For Meatball, losing weight doesn't mean simply eating fewer treats and chasing more red dots.
When a cat needs to lose a significant amount of weight, it not only needs specially prescribed food, it also has to be carefully monitored by a veterinarian. Losing too much too fast can cause serious, even deadly, liver damage, so frequent blood tests are a must.
While several people have expressed interest in adopting Meatball, he's simply not ready to go home with a family. He has quite a few pounds to shed, and it's not clear how long that might take.
"Meatball will stay with them at the clinic where he will receive veterinary care and TLC," Gable said. "Once they feel he has lost enough weight and is suitable for adoption, they will handle the process of finding him a loving family."
Meatball was shuffled from home to home before somebody handed him over to MCACC. The team at Companion Pet will make sure that doesn't happen to him again.
"At Companion Pet Clinic, we believe in helping those in need," the vet's website reads. "We are proud to work with local animal shelters to help pets in need of veterinary care who are considered 'unadoptable' and otherwise euthanized. We communicate with animal shelters often and help when we can."