Sunday, March 24, 2013

Local Vet and Animal Rescue Organizers Team Up to Save Life of Obese Cat

“Shirley” Gets a Second Chance at Life Thanks to Pinnacle Animal Hospital,
Foster Family, and Two Animal Welfare Groups

SAN JOSE, CA – Obesity can affect felines in the same way it can affect humans: high blood pressure, diabetes, heart and respiratory disease, joint degradation and more.  It has one additional impact on shelter animals:  it can prevent them from being classified as adoptable.
So goes the story of Shirley, a 7-year-old domestic shorthair tabby, who was surrendered to a San Jose shelter last November.  Despite a sweet disposition, good general health and young age, Shirley was classified as unadoptable due to her weight.   The 15.7 pound tabby, about 30 percent overweight, was considered too unhealthy to “re-home.”  

Enter St. Francis Animal Protection Society (APS) and San Jose Animal Advocates.  The two organizations working hand-in-hand determined that Shirley could and should get a second chance.  St. Francis APS rescued Shirley from the shelter and San Jose Animal Advocates found her a great foster home.  Once Shirley settled in with her foster family, the goal became getting her healthy so she could find her forever home.  

Veterinarians at Pinnacle Animal Hospital in San Jose learned about Shirley’s situation and donated their help.  They enrolled Shirley in the hospital’s “Chub Club,” where vets work with pets and their owners to address and eliminate animal obesity.  Dr. Michelle Forgy screened Shirley for other potential illnesses, designed a food program for her feline patient, and provided the structure of regular monitoring and monthly weigh-ins.   A local representative from Hill’s Pet Nutrition heard about Shirley’s rescue and donated the dry food prescribed by the vet.

Last week – after four months of disciplined diet and active play – Shirley reached her goal weight of 12.5 pounds.  She has been cleared by Dr. Forgy to find her perfect forever home and is ready to start the next healthy chapter in her life.  Thanks to Shirley’s foster mom, her progress and story have been documented here
“We’re grateful to all of the people and organizations that have helped give Shirley a new lease on life.  As she enters this new phase, we’ll find her a good home, loving family, and a partner in health,” said Melissa Lisbon, co-founder of San Jose Animal Advocates.

Shirley is available for adoption through St. Francis Animal Protection Society (see Petfinder Profile -  For more information about Shirley, San Jose Animal Advocates or St. Francis Animal Protection Society, call Melissa Lisbon at (408) 637-1282, email, or go to
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Shirley’s Veterinarian
Interview with Dr. Michelle Forgy, Pinnacle Animal Hospital, San Jose
Q. How many pets – and what kind -- are enrolled in Club Chub? A. We have about 25 cats and dogs in the program right now.
Q. How long has the program existed?
A. Dr. Andrea Moore and I formed the Chub Club soon after we opened in July 2012.
Q. Why is it so important that animals have a managed and methodical weight loss approach?A. Weight loss that is too rapid can be unhealthy, especially in cats. Cats can develop a potentially serious liver condition called hepatic lipidosis if they lose weight too quickly. For some of our severely obese cats (we have two of them over 25 pounds), we plan for the weight loss program to take almost a year.
Q. How important with animals is the combination of play/activity/food management, versus one or the other?
A. Just like in people, they are all important. Calories eaten should not dramatically exceed calories expended. And for cats, the type of calories is especially important.  Many cats do not handle carbs well and do better on a higher protein diet.
Q. What stands out to you about Shirley and her situation? A. What strikes me about Shirley is that she could have so easily been passed over and not made it out of the shelter system, simply due to her weight. She is a beautiful cat with so much personality. But what is so gratifying is that with a few simple steps, we have been able to transform her. She looks healthier, she feels better, and she is now adoptable. I think she and her foster mom can be a great inspiration for other cat owners.  One other thing I'd like to touch on about Shirley and our other Chub Clubbers is that our Facebook community has been a great source of support for them. We do monthly weigh-ins with the primary vet, reassess the diet plan, and get a picture for Facebook. We post the picture and provide a short update, and our followers tend to chime in with words of encouragement. It also gives many of the owners a sense of accountability, since their pet’s progress is tracked for others to see. It's all in good fun, but it keeps people motivated.


  1. Since when this site has become animals' social issues?

    1. Feed free to start your own San Jose blog and post whatever you'd like.

    2. Seriously. Anon, don't be a dick. You're complaining about free content. Josh shouldn't have to check with you before posting something about a local charity.

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