Kitties Shadow and Rocco Help Their Human Lose More Than 350 Pounds

The rescue cats were with Tina Rambarran every step of the way, providing emotional support.

For Tina Rambarran, getting a pet was the beginning of her new beginning. When she walked into an animal shelter with her husband in 2005, she didn’t know she would be leaving with the kind of love that would help her shed weight and worry.

“I was 500 pounds, and I had a lot of anxiety,” says Tina, who is now 350 pounds lighter thanks to gastric bypass surgery and the support of her two kitties, Shadow and Rocco.

“They loved me throughout the whole process. I think the only thing that disappointed them is that I’m away from the house a lot more because I’m more confident,” she jokes.

Tina first experienced the power of pet love 11 years ago, when she walked into an animal shelter with her husband and found a cat who looked just as anxious as she often felt.

“She held onto the cage — you could tell she didn’t want to go with us,” Tina says, recalling how shelter staff had matched the kitty with the couple.

She was told the long-haired grey beauty who was born in someone’s garage and brought to the animal shelter with her brother. When he died of kidney failure, the cat was left alone in the strange new place.

“I think that’s why she became even more shy in the shelter,” Tina explains, recalling how shelter staff warned her this cat wasn’t going to be the kind who likes to be held. She says that was true — at first — but after about three weeks at home with Tina and her husband, the cat they called Shadow had gone from avoiding affection to actively pursuing it.

“Now all she wants to do is be petted,” Tina says. “She’s become a complete lap cat.”

When Tina and her husband moved to a new house, the cat who had mourned her brother at the shelter got a big surprise when they brought home a sibling for her. Rocco, a fluffy grey and white boy with a history of pneumonia, was also a shelter kitty. Although not a purebred Persian himself, the mixed breed had been born into a house full of them. When the elderly lady who owned the house died, he’d ended up at the shelter, where he made quite an impression on his future pet parents.

(All photos courtesy Tina and instagram.com/shadowandrocco)
Rocco. (Photo courtesy Tina and Instagram.com/shadowandrocco)

“My husband sat down and Rocco reached his little hand up and touched my husband on the shoulder. My husband looked at me and said, ‘I guess he’s ours,’” Tina recalls.

Rocco couldn’t come home right away because of the pneumonia, but he was very excited when he finally set paw in his new place.

“Rocco literally jumped out of the carrier into my arms, like he was saying thank you,” Tina recalls. “I was at my heaviest, so I really bonded with him because I was in bed most of the time.”

Tina’s physical health was in trouble, but she found having the cats around was great for her emotional state. Used to being anxious and fearful about every noise in the house, she now found herself chalking strange sounds up to cats being cats.

“Also just having the comfort of knowing that when you’re home alone you’re not really home alone. You always have someone there — it’s really unconditional love,” she explains.

In 2010, Tina left her cats at home and entered the hospital for gastric bypass surgery. Rocco sat on the stairs waiting for her to come home, and when she did, he was right there to comfort her.

It took Tina two more years to lose the 350 pounds, and the cats were with her every step of the way.

Tina with Shadow before her weightloss, and with Rocco afterwards. (All photos courtesy Tina Rambarran)
Tina with Shadow before her weight loss, and with Rocco after. (Photos courtesy Tina Rambarran)

“I walk around the house a lot, and Rocco will follow me everywhere — he’s very active so I can just bring toys on a stick,” Tina explains. She needs to walk around to help relieve the chronic nerve pain caused by her final skin removal surgery. She had several, and each involved a rather lengthy recovery. While Shadow would offer cuddle support after the surgeries, Rocco takes a more active role in Tina’s wellness.

“Now even if I’m on the treadmill, Rocco will come — they kind of support you no matter what. If I need to lie in bed and recover, they’re there. If I need to go on the treadmill, [Rocco] goes to the treadmill and puts his two front paws on it and watches me on that.”

You only have to look at Tina to see the incredible difference adopting rescue pets has made in her life. Shadow and Rocco both had issues that made them less than ideal candidates for adoption, but both cats have truly blossomed and helped Tina do the same.

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Heather Marcoux

Heather is a wife, new mom, and former TV journalist in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. You can follow Heather on Twitter and Google+.

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