There's a new fat cat in town.
When Prince Chunk, said to be 44 pounds, was discovered in South Jersey last month, the tubby tabby made national headlines and captivated morning television news shows.
This week, a pretender to Chunk's throne arrived on the scene.
He's Shamu - a 35-pound, black-and-white furball - who was found in Camden on Monday and dropped off at the very same South Jersey animal shelter where Prince Chunk was launched to his 15 minutes of fame.
Shamu not only looks bigger than his rival, he may actually turn out to be the real heavyweight champ.
"Chunk was a big cat with a large bone structure. He looked very fat but could carry his weight well," said Jennifer Andersch, director of the Camden County Animal Shelter in Blackwood.
It may be an optical illusion, Andersch said, but Shamu appears much bigger than Prince Chunk.
"Shamu has dainty bones," Andersch said. "With the 35 on him, he looks absolutely massive!"
That's no illusion, said Prince Chunk's current caretaker.
Vince Damiani, 17, works at the Camden County shelter and has taken care of Chunk since the cat became a national celebrity.
"I weighed him myself," Damiani said. "And he only came up in the mid-20-pound range."
He took Chunk to an veterinarian. The vet confirmed Damiani's suspicion:
At 22 pounds, Chunk is only half the cat he used to be.
The Prince may have to relinquish his crown.
"It's shocking but we're excited about it," Damiani said. "He's going to live longer and it's gonna be easier to get the remaining weight off him."
Andersch, the shelter's director, is mystified at Chunk's apparent rapid weight loss.
"I own a 22-pounder, and mine looks like a waify thing compared to Chunk," Andersch said.
Chunk has been on a diet, and doesn't like the food he's being served, Andersch said, and that might contribute to a poor appetite.
"But I can't imagine that the animal lost that much weight," she said.
Damiani believes that Chunk has been "misrepresented," but stopped short of calling the fat cat a hoax.
"I don't think it was done purposely," Damiani said, adding that the scale at the shelter has been known not to operate properly.
In the meantime, Damiani hopes the media circus around Chunk will go away. He's happy just to have Chunk as a new member of his family.
"Chunk is happy, adjusted, he's doing great," Damiani said. "And we were ready for a 44-pound cat. He's only 22. You've seen the pictures. Can you imagine a cat twice that size?"
Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or at email@example.com.