A fat cat from Edmonton has gone viral on TikTok for his workout routine.
Peaches the Purrmaid, weighing nearly 25 pounds, swims in an effort to lose weight.
“He’s always been a big boy,” said Chastity Emes, Peaches’s owner.
“He’s always been free fed because we didn’t know any better.”
During the pandemic, Emes attempted to get Peaches to accompany her on walks, but didn’t have much luck.
“I had a harness for him and tried to get him out of the condo, and we didn’t make it out of our hallway because he just kind of flopped over and decided it wasn’t going to happen,” Emes said.
But then last summer, Emes noticed Peaches was sick and lethargic and started going potty outside of his litter box, a common sign of illness in cats.
Emes said she took Peaches to the vet, who told her Peaches was diabetic and would require insulin injections twice a day and should probably lose at least 4.5 lbs.
Emes said her friend worked at a local animal hydrotherapy business and decided to sign Peaches up for some swimming lessons.
Kira Palechek, owner and hydrotherapist at Frisky Pup Canine Hydrotherapy & Fitness, has been with Peaches since he became a “Purrmaid.”
“He’s really good in the pool, he’s a good sport,” Palechek said.
“He’s never snappy or scratchy or anything which people would picture.”
Swimming helps to build Peaches’s cardio so he has an easier time in his day-to-day life.
“They kind of pick him up, take him to one end, and he swims to his platform,” Emes said.
“They try and do that a couple of times without a break to get his cardio up and then they’ll let him relax a little bit in between reps.”
Emes started posting videos and pictures of her cat’s weight loss journey on TikTok and was shocked when she gained about 33,000 followers within two weeks.
“It was shocking — I just wanted to learn TikTok because they have all sorts of funny voices and filters, but now he’s got a bit of a fan base,” she said.
“Someone commented today, ‘Peaches doesn’t know it, but I would die for him.’”
Several of the TikToks have gotten millions of views, she said, and some viewers worry his protesting meows are signs of pain or panic.
“If he was in pain, I think we would see him panicking and trying to get out of the water more than he is,” she said.
The water is warm, about 32 C, Palechek said.
“What that does is allows the blood vessels to dilate and allow very well-oxygenated blood to circulate through the body, which allows for a reduction in inflammation and a reduction in pain,” she said.
The buoyancy of the water also helps take pressure off of the animal’s joints, according to Palechek.
“He’s pretty mellow when he’s on his platform in the water, it’s really only when he’s being asked to exert himself that he kind of miaows and gets more vocal and his vet is aware.”
Emes is optimistic Peaches will lose the weight the vet has suggested, and is hopeful he may be even able to wean off of his insulin.
“I’m confident that he’s lost more weight where he’s at least come back down to what he was at the end of last summer. I can tell by the amount of loose skin in his armpit,” she said.