By Sara Malm
At 33lbs, he was a real heavyweight of the cat world.
But just two months after being adopted by a new family, Spongebob, the ginger tom who horrified and charmed New York, has died.
The cat gained unlikely celebrity status earlier this summer when he arrived at New York City rescue centre.
Although veterinaries said his death was not caused by his weight the nine-year-old moggie's obesity made an operation life threatening and his new owners Courtney and Matt Farrell were forced to let him go last week.
Big eater: SpongeBob the massive moggie sadly passed away last week less than two months after being adopted by a New York couple
SpongeBob arrived at Animal Haven rescue centre earlier this year after his elderly owner moved to a care home.
Staff members were shocked at the cat’s size and put him on a strict diet in a bid to improve his health and chances to get adopted.
Kendra Mara, Animal Haven's associate director, said at the time: 'About 10 to 15 people stood around staring at him for quite a long time, because he was the largest cat we'd ever seen.
'We don't know how he became so big. We can only guess that his owner, because he was ill, was feeding him dry food on a regular basis, maybe just leaving it out, so he was able to eat whenever he wanted.'
He was soon re-homed after winning the hearts of New York couple Courtney and Matt at a benefit gala raising money for Animal Haven.
Blood work: Blood tests on the cat revealed no sign of hyperthyroidism which would have been a possible culprit in his weight gain
Cause of death: It was not his obesity which led to his early passing but it hindered treatment as it was deemed to risky to operate on him
He was given a clean bill of health by vet's at the time of his adoption, and was regularly monitored to improve his weight loss.
Although SpongeBob’s weight was not the cause of his illness, it did make it too dangerous for vets to operate on a heart growth which had been discovered two weeks before his death.
It was discovered after SpongeBob’s asthma had worsened but sadly the growth, which was putting pressure on his heart, was inoperable due to the danger of ‘Sponge’ dying on the operating table from the anaesthesia.
Matt and Courtney made the decision to let SpongeBob go and remained with him as he passed, giving him love to the end.
Courtney said in a statement: ‘This has been one of the hardest things I have ever experienced, and certainly the most difficult thing Matt and I have had to endure as a couple.
Loved: SpongeBob in the arms of Kendra Mara at Animal Haven before his adoption into a loving home
‘I'm sure it's evident to all of you that we treated 'Sponge' like he was our first baby.
‘We loved this cat so tremendously and had so many plans for him as part of our family.
‘As profoundly sad as we are, we can only try to focus on how much love we were able to give him during his last couple of months.
We gave him a family, we gave him room to run around, and we showered him with love all the way to the end.’
For more information about how to adopt cats in need, or to make a donation, visit http://www.animalhavenshelter.org/site/PageServer
SpongeBob had started to lose weight on his diet and exercise plan set up by the volunteers at the shelter but it was too late
Friday, August 10, 2012
By Sara Malm