Bronson is a cat filled with mystery, and at 33 lbs., he can really pack in the intrigue.
Today he lives with his forever family — which includes owners Mike and Megan and three other cats: Ickle, Heisenberg and Gwildor — in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But before he found this loving crew, who are working to help the obese cat get to a healthy weight, the 3-year-old’s life was nothing but question marks.
Mike, who adopted the orange tabby from Humane Society of West Michigan in April, was told by shelter employees that Bronson was surrendered to the shelter after his owner died. Little information was given outside of that.
“They guessed that his owner may have been an elderly person or immobile, so they weren’t able to give him exercise. They also guessed that he was either overfed or fed people food because he’s only 3 years old and has gained the weight so quickly,” Mike tells PEOPLE.
Mike and Megan originally went to the shelter to adopt a kitten but fell in love with Bronson when they first spied him filling up a large cat bed.
“After meeting him in person and seeing how sweet he was, we quickly realized that he needed to come home with us. We knew it was going to be a lot of work because of his weight, but thought about how nice it would be to see his progress along the way,” Mike says.
And Bronson’s pet parents have stuck to their promise. Since adopting the big kitty they have adjusted his diet to carefully managed meals that include healthy snacks like cat grass. While the feline might not have a personal trainer, he has the next best thing: Megan and Mike are the creative, kitty-loving minds behind Catastrophic Creations, a playful cat furniture line.
Bronson is currently a little too hefty for most of the furniture, which includes hangable bridges and ledges, but he is being cared for by two people who know how to show a kitty a good time.
“We actively play with him multiple times each day with string or catnip-filled toys and try to interest him in some solo-play cat gadgets that we have throughout the day. He also does what we call ‘food walking,’ which is made up of us moving his food around the house as he eats it to promote him to walk,” Mike shares.
Fans of Bronson can keep up with his progress on his Instagram @iambronsonthecat or his Facebook, where there are often videos of Bronson working toward his goal. He has already dropped 1.7 lbs. and is showing change in other ways.
“He has way more energy now than he did just a few months ago, when we got him. When we used to come home from work, all of the cats would be at the door, but Bronson would stay in our room and we would greet him in there. Nowadays, he is at the door waiting with the other cats when we come home,” adds Mike.
Speaking of the other cats, Megan and Mike were originally told that Bronson wasn’t too social, but the pair haven’t found this to be true. Bronson, while not in the shape to roughhouse himself yet, enjoys keeping an eye on the other cats and is never far from his owners when they are home.
“This is our first cat we’ve had that needs extra care, and it’s really been so rewarding. I think it’s nice that we can be spreading the word about what we love and hate about it and hopefully it will inspire people to do the same,” Mike says.
He continues, “We don’t want to tell everybody it’s wonderful all the time and have that turn into someone taking on a responsibility that they aren’t ready for. For instance, Bronson can’t reach his backside to clean himself and, at times, needs help cleaning himself. It’s been a lot of time and work, but at the end of the day it’s been great for us. We would hope to inspire people that have extra time to put it toward someone like Bronson.”
Animal lovers will be able to get even more of Bronson in the future: His owners are currently working on website where they will provide more Bronson updates and offer a space for cat parents to talk about feline weight issues and how to treat them.
In the end, it is all about doing what’s best for Bronson, who might begin therapy cat training in the future, so he can be his best, healthiest self.
“We’d like him to feel like a prince.” Mike says.