Cubby is an overweight, long-haired Maine Coon mixed cat. This 13-year-old cat lives in Fishers, Indianapolis, with his owner, Natalie Bunting. Cubby was never afraid to let Natalie know when he was hungry, which has contributed to him becoming a ‘chonker’. Over time, Cubby began to get more aggressive when he was trying to tell Natalie that he was ready for his next meal. According to the Indy Star, Cubby eventually reached 19 pounds, which is significantly overweight for a cat of his breed. Natalie says that he constantly behaved s though he was starving, even though he had been given plenty of food to eat.
The cat also developed some rather unusual tastes. While most cats are happy to eat the cat food provided and to enjoy the occasional treat of fresh meat or fish, Cubby would eat anything he could get his paws on. He would even steal food from the grocery bowl, and he developed a particular fondness for avocados. Cubby would even steal food directly off people’s plates. Natalie realized that her cat’s behavior wasn’t normal and that it was possible that there was a medical cause for his behaviour. She took Cubby to the veterinarian for further examination. There, the vet ran a range of blood tests, took x-rays, and referred the cat to a dermatologist for further investigation.
Eventually, after extensive testing, Cubby was diagnosed with a rare feline condition called feline Cushing’s disease. According to Pet MD, this rare feline condition causes an overproduction of a hormone called cortisol. This condition can make cats feel very hungry and thirsty. It can also weaken their skin. Natalie found it hard seeing her cat in pain, but she had a lot of support from people online. She had begun to post pictures of her cat eating unusual things onto a Facebook page called ‘This Cat is CHONKY’. The term chonky is a slang term that is used on social media to refer to fat cats. All the people who post on this page have cats that are considered chonky.
Some of the pictures posted by Natalie show cubby wearing small T-shirts and onesies. She initially bought him these items of clothing so that the cat couldn’t scratch itself. One of the followers of the Facebook page likes seeing Cubby in his shirts so much that they have said they would even vote him mayor of their town. Natalie Bunting has now become one of the 19 administrators of the Facebook page, which has more than 400,000 followers. Moderating the site is a big job as there are videos and photographs uploaded at least hourly.
It is hardly surprising that this page is so popular, as cat obesity is an alarmingly common problem. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, their 2018 survey revealed that approximately 60 percent of cats in the United States are obese. This is even more than dogs, as 56 percent of dogs in the United States are obese. Obesity is particularly an issue for indoor cats as they have more access to food and fewer opportunities for exercise. Pet owners are becoming increasingly aware of the health problems associated with obesity, such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and joint problems. Therefore, they are taking steps to help their pets lose weight. Many of them are using social media as a way of tracking their pet’s weight loss progress and sharing their experiences with other owners of overweight pets.
Natalie has also created a separate Facebook page that is just about Cubby. She is using it to raise awareness of his disease. Already, his page has more than three thousand followers. Natalie says that she was finding Cubby’s condition frustrating at one point, but that having the support of people on social media has made her realize that the situation is not the end of the world. It has helped her to see things from a different perspective. Despite the many negative aspects of Cubby’s condition, Natalie says that there have been many positives to having him in her life. She says that having Cubby has completely changed her life and that he is a big inspiration to her.
Some people have shown concern about the things that Cubby eats that are beyond a cat’s regular diet, especially because he eats avocados. However, AvoDerm says that it is perfectly safe for both cats and dogs to eat avocados. The only part of an avocado that a cat should not eat is the pit, as this can pose a choking hazard. Since his diagnosis, Cubby has received ongoing treatment for his Cushing’s disease. This has helped him to lose weight, and he is now maintaining a healthy weight for his breed and size. Natalie has shown this fantastic transformation with the photographs she posts on social media. Receiving treatment means that the cat is now back to his normal self.
Natalie says that although he is back to good health, there are two things that have changed about Cubby. The first is that he now likes to eat two breakfasts; one at 6 am and one at 9 am. She has said that if he doesn’t get either of the breakfasts on time, he will stand on the counter meowing loudly to get her attention as a way of demanding she gets him his food. The second change is that he now wants to have more human contact. He enjoys lying on top of Natalie, which is something that he didn’t really do before. She is not sure if this is because he needs more attention since he got sick, or if it is simply his way of saying thank you to her for looking after him so well.