'Rooting for you': Winnipegger's art inspired by internet-famous fat cat's workout journey

A Winnipeg artist's caricatures of a cat have been gaining traction online since the morbidly obese animal's adventures in weight loss have gone viral.

Cinderblock the cat featured using a treadmill has caught internet's attention

Winnipeg-based artist Alex Plante created these illustrations of Cinderblock, the morbidly obese cat who became famous online for her weight-loss routine. (Submitted by Alex Plante)

A Winnipeg artist's rendition of a cat named Cinderblock has gained traction online since the morbidly obese animal's adventures in weight loss have gone viral.

"Everybody sees themselves in this cat," said artist Alex Plante of Winnipeg. "They want to root for the underdog."

Cinderblock, also known by her nickname Cinder, was relinquished to the Northshore Veterinary Hospital, a clinic located on the west coast near the Canada-U.S. border in Bellingham, Wash., due to poor mobility. According to the vet, her morbid obesity was affecting quality of life.

"We look forward to seeing her mobility improve with weight loss," the animal hospital wrote in an Instragram post.

The clinic has been documenting Cinderblock's weight loss journey through prescription diet and exercise — including on a treadmill — in a series of social media posts.

"I don't know if there's anything really funnier than a vaguely square-shaped chubby cat grey named Cinderblock putting in the least amount of work possible on this treadmill. And just crying about it the whole time," Plante said.

"It's just funny. And relatable."

The clinic wrote in a Facebook post about the importance of feeding prescription weight loss food that is nutritionally balanced to a pet that is this overweight to avoid essential nutrient deficiencies that can happen in a weight loss program. The vet explained in the post why it is subjecting the cat to the underwater treadmill.

"Cinder has arthritis in multiple joints and is carrying an extra 10 [pounds] of body weight. The water provides a reduced weight-bearing environment that increases functional use of limbs without marked weight loading and resultant discomfort to joints," the Facebook post reads.

"She's still in the process of becoming acclimated to this treadmill and the water level is lower than we would like just so she can become used to the process."

Another post by the vet shows kibble scattered along the floor to encourage her to move around the room and increase her exercise.

Plante said she first came across the cat "not having it" on the treadmill while she was on Reddit. She played it over and over while cackling to herself, then showed it to her mother and they laughed about it together as the video looped on repeat.

The viral cat inspired her to create a digital illustration, bringing the animal to life in a sketch.

Plante said the character design was inspired by Kingpin, a fictional supervillain who is one of the most powerful bosses in Marvel Comics.

Cinderblock nearly drags her belly as she waddles, as depicted in this caricature by Plante. (Submitted by Alex Plante)

In Plante's artwork, the caricatured cat is shown lying around with her belly flopped on the ground, as well as sitting and standing around, even looking angry in one.

Plante posted her art to Twitter and Instagram — then it started blowing up, she said. Plante said she's selling prints of her work to raise funds for the Northshore Veterinary Hospital.

"Drawing fat animals is really fun," Plante said.

Plante grew up with two of her own cats, Marilyn and Sally. But the former feline owner is not just a cat-person.

"I just love animals in general," said Plante, who is still grappling with the notoriety of her creation.

"The fact that I was interviewed by multiple media outlets about drawing a fat cat is just a very bizarre thing," Plante said.

"I'm embracing all of the absurdity of it."

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