Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Farewell, Prince Chunk...

Prince Chunk was a celebrity cat. He got up to 44 pounds. He gained fame a few years ago, in 2008, when his owner lost her home and she left Prince Junk to wander the streets in New Jersey. He was eventually taken in at the Camden County Animal Shelter. He became something of a celebrity, chiefly for his enormous size. He appeared on Good Morning America and Live With Regis and Kelly. (Source)

Unlike so many cats in shelters, who ultimately face a lonely death of euthanasia, Prince Chunk's ordeal actually had a happy ending. He found a "Forever Family" that adopted him and showered him with love and affection. Vince Damiani and his family adopted the cat and took him to their wonderful home in Blackwood, New Jersey. They were chosen among 500 applicants (!) who were competing to adopt the beautiful but undeniably portly cat.

Sadly, Prince Chunk passed away on Sunday. I know he will be sorely missed in the Damiani household, and he's no doubt in the prayers of a lot of kind folks who remember seeing him in news reports two years ago.

But his recent passing did stir an important debate about pet obesity. It's actually a crucial issue, one often overlooked in debates about animals. I have a beautiful cat named Summer who weighs about 17 pounds and I have to keep her on a diet because she is considered overweight. When I adopted her from the Humane Society, she weighed even a little more. Thanks to a diet that I put her on last month, Summer is losing weight and feeling better.

It's hard with pets. A lot of us work during the day, and sometimes we just end up pouring copious amounts of food in their dishes because we don't want them to go hungry. But as Prince Junk's story tell us, pet obesity is an important issue. Prince Junk was somewhere between 10 and 12 years old (the news accounts vary), but he may've lived at least a few more years if his weight weren't an issue. (Source) Who knows?

For our animal companions, a healthy diet is the key to a happy life. Sometimes I forget this, especially when the combination of my pro-animal rights philosophy meets my libertarian style of doing things around the home. Sometimes, I fill that cat dish too full and I go on about my business.

But the passing of Prince Junk will make me think twice about being nonchalant about these matters. He was a beautiful cat. He lived a good life. But I'm glad his experience has drawn attention to the important issue of pet obesity.

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