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39-pound cat dies of respiratory problems

39-pound cat dies of respiratory problems
Meow, the 39-pound cat, died from respiratory problems. (Image courtesy of Santa Fe Humane Society)

SANTA FE, N.M., May 8 (UPI) -- A New Mexico animal shelter said Meow, a 39-pound tabby cat that gained fame after appearing on NBC's "Today" show, has died from respiratory problems.

Mary Martin, executive director of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society, which had been caring for the 2-year-old orange and white feline after his elderly owner could no longer keep him, said Meow died during the weekend after developing respiratory problems, "Today" reported Tuesday.

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"We are devastated," Martin said. "We were in a race against time to get the weight off Meow before he developed complications from his obesity, and we lost."

"His extreme obesity may have set off a string of events that ultimately ended his life," said Jennifer Steketee, a veterinarian who accompanied Meow on his star-making April 23 appearance on "Today."

Martin said she hopes Meow's story will raise awareness of animal obesity.

"We hope his fight will encourage other people to help their pets maintain the best health possible," she said. "Obesity is not something to be ignored."

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