Back in May, we were appalled at UK Metro’s seemingly endless appetite (sorry) for photos of chonky cats:
“Do you have a pet who’s even chunkier than Manson? Get in touch to share their story,” Metro’s editors wrote at the end of an article profiling a 28-pound fat cat.
Now The Guardian is similarly alarmed, declaring the trend of glorifying morbidly obese cats online “has to end”:
The internet is now full of pictures of fat cats that their owners think are adorable but are actually health disasters, barely able to fit through a cat flap, let alone jump on to a ledge. In fact, the only time they jump is when their owner fills their feeding bowl.
The newspaper cites popular Instagram accounts like Round Boys, which counts almost 800,000 followers and features a constant stream of plump butterballs in cute poses, and Cats Is Chonky, a Facebook group that does not allow any discouragement of overfeeding cats, which the page’s operators say amounts to “shaming.” (There’s only one cat who can surf the internet and read its content, as we know, and his name starts with Bu and ends with ddy. Thankfully he’s more concerned with reading comments about himself and trying to order turkey.)
The Guardian’s call — and our own post — has nothing to do with shaming and everything to do with the fact that rewarding bad pet parenting only encourages more people to overstuff their cats.
If people think fattening up their cats is a shortcut to internet fame and lucrative $15,000 sponsored Instagram posts, they’re much more likely to hand out snacks like crack, and much less likely to use the word “no,” which as we all know is a necessary part of the vocabulary when caring for cats.
Obesity is not healthy for our feline friends. The chonk craze is dangerous. Not only does obesity lead to early death — as in the case of Buddha, pictured at the top, who died at age 6 from obesity-related complications — but by overfeeding, we are choosing an unhealthy lifestyle for our pets, who can’t give their consent or complain about unhealthy meals.
Please do right by your cats and feed them healthy, balanced foods. More time with your little buddies is more important than ephemeral internet fame.
Remember Barsik, the cat who was so extra-chonk he had to be wheeled around in a baby carriage because he couldn’t fit in a cat carrier?
The former “Fattest cat in New York” has melted the pounds off in the year since he was surrendered to NYC’s Anjellicle Cats rescue and adopted by 35-year-old Meredith Adams.
When he was surrendered, Barisk tipped the scales at 41 pounds — dangerously close to the Guinness record 46 pounds for a house cat. He was so big, the sight of him getting wheeled into the shelter prompted an amused visitor to snap a smartphone pic and quip: “Did he eat another cat?”
Barsik’s having the last laugh, as he’s down to 22 pounds and enjoying life in his new home.
He’s well on his way to his ideal weight of 16 pounds according to Adams, who says she’s been controlling Barsik’s dry food intake while feeding him wet food.
“He does pretty much everything regular cats do — jumping around, at night he gets the zoomies,” Adams told the New York Post. “He is a regular cat now.”
The Post notes Guinness stopped taking new entries for heaviest cat out of concern that misguided owners would over feed their chonksters to pursue the crown. Himmy, the Australian kitty who set the record, died at just 10 years old from complications associated with his obesity.
Barsik has settled into his new life, diet and all.
“He has a big personality. He is very demanding, he is very vocal, but he is also really friendly,” Adams said. “When I come home from work and get into the building, I hear his meowing all the way down the hall. He wants his food, but he also wants to say ‘hi’ to me.”
The newspaper recently profiled Manson, a 28-pound behemoth who lives with his humans in Silver Spring, Maryland, but the god of internet traffic is never sated, so the story ends with a request — or challenge — for more morbidly obese pets to drive clicks.
“Do you have a pet who’s even chunkier than Manson? Get in touch to share their story,” Metro’s editors write.
You know things have gotten out of hand when readers and editors alike respond to a story about a kitty almost three times the weight of a normal feline with a collective “Eh, that’s all? Show us a fatter one!”
In the world of Online Famous felines, popularity is directly proportional to fat, inspiring a caloric arms race among those seeking fleeting fame from fickle followers.
Indeed, the Metro story notes that while two-year-old Manson can’t hop up onto his humans’ bed without assistance, he’s amassed more than 10,000 followers on Instagram, as if an abstract measure of online “fame” — which he can never comprehend and makes absolutely no difference to him — counterbalances the maladies he’ll suffer due to his weight.
People apparently think it’s funny to see a two-year-old cat who can do little more than nap, eat and roll himself around the house. Anyone who expresses alarm for the welfare of the cat is a “troll” or a hater, according to the Metro article.
Are people stuffing their cats for followers and upvotes?
There’s really no way to determine that short of cat owners admitting it. Manson’s owners say they see no problem with their cat’s diet.
Most of these “chonky cat” stories come from shelters, where staff and volunteers are left with the hard problem of getting huge furballs to slim down after they’ve been abandoned by their humans or orphaned due to owner death. That was the case with Bazooka, a 35-pound ginger tabby whose owner had dementia and fed the cat constantly.
“[Bazooka’s owner] thought he was doing the best thing for his cat by feeding him,” an SPCA spokeswoman said at the time. “We need to look on this with a compassionate view. He was loved.”
Those viral chonky cat stories have been a boon to shelters, highlighting the good work they do and driving donations from cat lovers and well-wishers.
But those shelters are trying to get the cats in their care to lose weight, not pack on the pounds. That’s because they see first-hand what morbid obesity can do to a cat’s quality of life and life expectancy.
As for the rest of us, we should probably rethink our tendency to reward the owners of massive cats with our attention.
WASHINGTON — First contact between humanity and an alien race known as the Zxorxax faced a hiccup on Thursday after the alien delegation demanded a meeting with Earth’s felines.
US and UN leaders were left momentarily confused when one of the Zxorxax leaders interrupted a welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn to issue the demand.
“On this momentous day, the human race extends a warm welcome and rejoices in the knowledge that we are not alone in the univ…”
“Human stop talking!” the Zxorxax Supreme Chancellor, Xoralundra, said while interrupting UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “We demand to speak to the superior race on this planet.”
With the entire world watching via television and satellite feeds, Guterres, American President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Jean-Jacques Claude Louis Macron exchanged pained glances.
“Uh, Supreme Chancellor, you are speaking to the leaders of the human…” Macron began.
“You will be silent, or perish in the purifying blaze of our parametric space-time weaponry!” said an aid to the Supreme Chancellor who identified himself only as the Herald of Xora. “We did not ask to speak to a frog.”
“We will treat only with the great warrior species of your planet,” Xoralundra proclaimed in a booming voice after a long moment of pained silence. “Bring forth the felines.”
By late afternoon White House officials had cleared a conference room for the Zxorxax, where they met with a feline delegation headed by a house cat named Chonkmatic the Magnificent. The world’s most powerful human leaders were left in the hallway outside as the aliens conducted negotiations with the felines.
New York Times reporter Bat Segundo, who was among a handful of media observers permitted inside the negotiation room, said the Zxorxax were delighted when they presented Chonkmatic and his delegation with a priceless artifact from the Zxorxaxian home world as a gift of good will, and the overweight tabby responded by swiping the offering off the table.
“You see?” Xoralundra called out, addressing his fellow Zxorxax. “These felines are great warriors who care not for baubles and riches, unlike the inferior humans of this planet who are besotted with shiny objects.”
Asked later why his delegation demanded to meet with house cats, the Supreme Chancellor said it was purely a matter of practicality.
“We knew upon approaching this system that real power lies in the paws of these impressive creatures,” Xoralundra said, addressing reporters. “Our long-range instrumentation revealed images of humans diligently serving these ‘cats,’ as you call them, and it became quickly apparent that while the humans rule in name, ‘cats’ are the true power on your world.”
The Zxorxax themselves refer to felines as “Sxarxion Hrath’gar,” an alien name that translates roughly to “Legendary Warriors of Great Renown and Prowess.”
A second round of negotiations between the aliens and felines has been scheduled for Friday. The Zxorxax seek perpetual rights to Earth’s supply of greenhouse gases, which they consider a delicacy, while the cats have indicated they are willing to make a deal in exchange for a considerable number of alien boxes.
Allison Foley, Chonkmatic’s caretaker, said she would be staying in the White House with her cat as a special guest of the administration for the duration of the talks.
Chonkmatic would be taken back to his suite, fed his favorite brand of chicken wet food, and given the night off to rest before meeting with the aliens again the following day, she said.
“Who’s a good widdle boy? Who just negotiated with an alien race? That’s right, you did!” Foley told the obese cat, scratching behind his ears as he purred and nuzzled her. “Good boy wants yum yums? Okay, mommy’s taking you back to our suite now. Come on, my widdle baby cakes!”
Trump insisted it was always the plan to have the aliens negotiate with felines, and boasted of his “beautiful relationship” with the alien High Chancellor.
“High Chancellor Xoralundra wrote me a big, beautiful letter,” Trump tweeted at 3:22 am on Friday morning. “A tremendous letter, really terrific. The High Chancellor realizes that American cats are the number one cats in the world, they really are. We’re gonna make a deal with the aliens and benefit bigly!”
It seems like a new super chonk cat goes viral everyday, and it’s always the same story — the cat comes from a home where its owner is either negligent or unable to properly care for kitty, and a rescue is left with the dual responsibility of finding a new home and getting the cat to slim down.
That’s the case with Wilford, a handsome eight-year-old tabby who weighs in at a hefty 28 pounds.
Wilford is living with a D.C.-area foster couple, who have the long-haired dude on a diet and are trying to get him to exercise. They say his ideal weight is about 14 pounds, half of what he weighs now.
But as the video below illustrates, Wilford is so heavy, “playing” for him means laying on his back and doing “crunches” while batting at his wand toys instead of chasing them:
“Wilford absolutely loves to play- but he only feels comfortable doing so while safely ensconced beneath the dining room table,” his foster humans wrote on Instagram. “Kind of like preferring to work out at home instead of at the gym!”
In a bit of TMI, they say Wilford’s dropped some weight and is ready to start the process of screening for a forever home, but they’re still concerned over his sluggish ways and his “irregular vowel movements.”
Read: If you’re looking to adopt this regal little guy, you shouldn’t be the type who’s squeamish about blown-up litter boxes.
While handling Wilford feels like “picking up a greasy watermelon when you have to move him from place to place,” foster parent Jen tells DCist, “he is an absolute delight and we are so grateful to have the opportunity to spend time with him.”
Wilford’s favorite position is laying on his back, and unlike most cats, he actually likes it when humans scratch his belly.
“I mean, he’s just absolutely adorable,” Jen said. “He’s very dramatic, and when he wants something, he’ll roll over and just squeak. And you’re basically like, ‘Alright, Wilford, I’ll give you another tummy rub.’”
Chronicling the adventures of Buddy the Cat and his various criminal enterprises.