Web Exclusive: Fat Cat Fitness!

Buddha, a 6-year-old gray and white butterball with a hankering for human food, was surrendered to a local shelter in August. When Penny Adams, a volunteer at The Cat Shoppe, found him, Buddha weighed 31.4 pounds!

"We suspect that he wasn’t eating a normal cat diet because when he came to the Cat Shoppe rescue, he didn’t have a big interest in cat food," Penny explains. "He was more interested in the owner’s lunch!"

Buddha, Penny and Buddha's veterinarian, Dr. Lisa Martin, join The Doctors via polycom to explain why water therapy is the best option for this overweight kitty.

"For Buddha, it really was because of how extreme his weight gain had been," Dr. Martin says. "We were concerned about just the wear and tear on his joints, and just his being a little too sedentary to start with and not wanting to be active. We just needed to put him in an enviroment that really supported his weight and allowed him to exercise freely without damaging the cartilage in his joints."

Buddha has been on a diet and exercise program since August. He eats calorie-conscious, cat food-only meals and works out on the underwater treadmill three times a week.  And Buddha loves it! At first, he only walked for two minutes at a time, but now he is up to 12 minutes a session, or 36 minutes a day! He is more active and outgoing and is able to jump up to various heights.

When he started his rehabilitation, Buddha was nervous around the submerged machine. But now, he walks the treadmill with a spring in his paws. Water makes it easier for Buddha to workout, as it decreases stress on his knees, ankles and hips.

As of Oct. 25, Buddha's weighed 25.5 pounds, leaving him only 5.5 pounds shy of his goal weight. At that point, Penny hopes to place him for adoption. And based on the amount of fans Buddha has online and in Nashville, finding a family should be no problem!

And, according to The Cat Shoppe's Facebook page, Buddha already has his Halloween costume ready. He'll be Nemo from Finding Nemo, of course!

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