When vets at Bellingham’s Northshore Veterinary Hospital posted a video of the cat Cinder-Block to their Facebook page last October, they never could have imagined the response it would receive. In the video, which has since racked up more than 3.3 million views, Cinder paws at the ground and mews at the camera while sitting half-submerged on an underwater treadmill. “That’s good work!” vet technician Jason Collins exclaims.

The video soon went viral, with outlets like the Washington Post and Time Magazine picking up Cinder’s story. Due to the response, Purina sponsored the cat with a free year of weight loss cat food. In December, People Magazine named Cinder the “Most Reluctant Exerciser” of 2019. Dr. Brita Kiffney, who works with Cinder, attributes the video’s success to the cat’s relatability — who can’t empathize with not wanting to exercise?

“It definitely came out of the blue,” an employee at the vet says about the overwhelming response to Cinder’s videos. “And it definitely gave [Dr. Kiffney] a platform to inform people about obesity in pets.”

On the vet’s Facebook page, employees like Dr. Kiffney post frequent updates on Cinder’s progress, as well as open fan mail. Today, Cinder weighs 20 pounds — about 4 pounds less than several months ago. Still, with a weight goal of 12 pounds, Cinder has a long way to go. Obese pets are subject to a whole host of issues, like pain, arthritis, and decreased lung capacity. The vets at Northshore expect she’ll be at the hospital for another year, before she goes home with receptionist Jan Province. These days, Cinder spends three days per week with Province and the other four at the vet.  

“She’s kind of a mascot for all of us,” Dr. Kiffney says. “”At a vet hospital we can see a lot of sad things and, after a stressful day, if you take five minutes to hang out with Cinder, she really helps to cheer people up.”

Perhaps most importantly, vets at the hospital have used Cinder’s success for good. A GoFundMe in Cinder’s name netted almost $2,500 for pets in need. And for those who still want to lend a hand, all proceeds from Cinder’s merchandise goes toward programs like the Whatcom Humane Society and DVSAS. 

For more like this, check our Wellbeing section here. 

"She’s kind of a mascot for all of us. At a vet hospital we can see a lot of sad things and, after a stressful day, if you take five minutes to hang out with Cinder, she really helps to cheer people up."