Mike Wilson and Megan Hanneman didn’t expect to leave the Humane Society of West Michigan with a new pet when they stopped by one day.
The couple had been thinking about adding a kitten to their family, but when they saw Bronson — a massive 3-year-old orange cat weighing a whopping 33 pounds — it was love at first sight.
Bronson cut an impressive figure among the other cats in the shelter, and the pair couldn’t help but be impressed.
“We were startled at how huge he was when we first met him,” Wilson told The Dodo. “Neither of us had ever seen a cat so big before, and he was so lovely and cuddly, like a big stuffed toy!” We immediately went over to gaze at him from outside his room.”
Wilson and Hanneman waited in line to be questioned so they could meet Bronson, but they had to leave for work before they could meet the shelter staff.
They couldn’t stop staring at the photo they had taken of the big cat before leaving. “We were talking about him continuously on the way to work and started regretting not hanging around for him,” Wilson recalled.
The couple’s anxiety that Bronson might be adopted intensified as the day progressed, so they returned to the shelter as soon as they could.
“Because of how fast we were attached to him, we started feeling like he’d be adopted in no time,” Wilson said. “We returned right when they opened the following day and were so happy to see him again!”
Bronson was surrendered to the humane society when his elderly owner passed. He was nicknamed “Fat Kat” by shelter employees, and although living in a family with numerous dogs, he was a bit of a loner who kept to himself.
Nobody knew how such a young cat had accumulated so much weight.
“The staff changed his name once they brought him in,” Wilson explained, “but his naming kind of sheds light on how seriously they were treating his obesity.” “Their best assumption was that he was being given either too much kibble or table scraps.”
Bronson’s size put him at a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, among other health issues. The interviewer cautioned the pair that Bronson’s potential adoption would have to help him lose weight gradually through food and exercise. Because the young cat’s size made it difficult for him to fully clean himself, they would need to brush him regularly to maintain his behind clean.
When Wilson and Hanneman first met Bronson, they were astounded by how love-hungry the cat was, obviously yearning for affection and petting. Despite the fact that their hands were oily from caressing his striped orange fur, the couple decided they had to take him home.
“He was extremely messy and had a lot of dandruff in his hair, largely because he couldn’t maintain himself owing to his size,” Wilson added. “All I wanted to do was take him home, clean him up, and take care of him.”
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While Bronson may not have been sociable in his previous life, he likes hanging out with his two cat siblings in his current home. His friends, in turn, have encouraged Bronson to explore the house and play with the toys scattered throughout.
And his owners are overjoyed to witness the once-shy cat break out of his shell.
Wilson explained, “When we initially brought him home, he kind of did his own thing during the day and stayed in our bedroom.” “Nowadays, when we arrive home, he waits for us at the entrance with our other cats, he runs out to the kitchen if he hears a noise of cans opening, and he hangs out with the other cats in the living room. He is actually a really social kitty.”
Though Bronson hasn’t lost much weight, he’s on his way to becoming an active cat again under the care of Wilson and Hanneman.
“His weight reduction journey has been really successful, and we can already notice a difference in his physique, where he has a lot more definition in his arms and shoulders,” Wilson said. “His front arms used to buckle somewhat when he leapt down from our couch, but he now jumps down without hesitation.”
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The pair, who make wall-mounted furniture to encourage indoor cat movement, hopes that one day Bronson will be able to appreciate their inventions.
“We were looking for a kitten to help us test the furniture concepts with our other two cats, but then we spotted Bronson and kind of forgot why we were there,” Wilson explained. “When we realized how huge he was, we thought it would be so much fun to work with him to grow healthy and eventually go on the furniture one day.”
Bronson will join his parents for walks outside after he has shed enough weight to be able to take flea and tick treatment safely. “A year from now, his life will look quite different,” Wilson remarked.
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Everywhere Bronson goes, he attracts attention — not just for his size, but for his sweet, peaceful personality.
“Everybody that meets him can’t believe how big he is and instantly want to pet him,” Wilson added. “When we first brought him to the vet, everyone took turns coming in our room to meet him until there were like five vets and techs in the room at once. It makes us feel so lucky to have him.”
While Bronson may not have been social in his past life, at his new home, he enjoys hanging out his two cat siblings. His companions have, in turn, encouraged Bronson to explore the house and play with the toys littered about each room.
And his owners couldn’t be more happy to see the once-shy cat come out of his shell.
“When we first brought him home, he kind of did his own thing throughout the day and stayed in our bedroom,” Wilson said. “Nowadays, he is waiting for us by the door with our other cats when we get home, he runs out to the kitchen if he hears a ruckus of cans opening and hangs out with the other cats in the living room in the daytime. He is actually a really social kitty.”