PORTLAND, Ore. — Hercules, the fat cat who became famous after getting stuck in a doggie door while plundering another pet's food, has found his rotund self heading for the big-time.
A video of Hercules stuck in the door became a Web sensation. Now Martha Stewart Living magazine will feature him in an upcoming issue in an article about how to help pets lose weight, which Hercules has done, sort of.
He may become spokescat for a low-cal cat food and a Canadian admirer has made a belated try to buy Hercules' sperm for breeding purposes. Unhappily, Hercules went to the vet some time back.
But Hercules seems happiest with his owner, Geoff Earnest, who had given him up for lost.
"I think he's one of the best things that's ever happened to me," Earnest said. "He's like a brother to me. I just love him to death."
Pet got lost
Hercules was Earnest's constant companion for four years.
But Earnest, 31, has cystic fibrosis, and in June flew to Seattle for a rare but lifesaving double-lung transplant.
A housesitter watched Hercules, but the cat disappeared and Earnest assumed his beloved pet was dead.
But Hercules was doing just fine, sneaking into a stranger's garage, pigging out on pet food and leaving through a doggie door until the day he got stuck — and was videotaped.
He landed at the Oregon Humane Society, which alerted reporters and Hercules leaped, sort of, to stardom.
Feline TV star
In January Earnest saw Hercules on television.
These days, Earnest speaks often to schools and community groups and sometimes the cat tags along.
Earnest, who was told at 29 that he would die without a lung transplant, talks of his experience and encourages others to become donors.
And Hercules always gets a plug because he and the cat, he says, have something in common. "He came back from the dead like I did," he said.
Earnest walks Hercules for exercise every morning. Hercules has dropped about a pound but still weighs 19.6 pounds.
His veterinarian, Dr. Joshua Horner, says the cat could stand to drop three or four more.
But to Earnest, he's fine the way he is.
"He's just a big, big cat," he said. "I don't want to see him get any smaller."