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.”
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.’”
The subject of fat cats has come up quite a bit lately here on Pain In The Bud.
First we wrote about Barsik, the 40-pound chonkster who requires a stroller for transport because he’s too big for a carrier. On Thursday we blogged about Mikhail Galin, who hatched an elaborate plan to board his 22-pound tabby on a flight after Russian Airlines told him his feline was too fat to fly. And we’ve been following the struggles of Cinder, a 25-pound kitty who really hates treadmills.
Much to his chagrin, Buddy is in on the action too: I’ve cut back on his treats and portion size more as a preventive measure. He’s not fat, but he’s not as ripped as he thinks he is either.
So how do we deal with the feline obesity crisis? We asked Julia Lewis, DVM, who knows a thing or two about cats: Dr. Lewis graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the nation’s top veterinary school, and has 25 years’ experience working with shelters, universities and most recently in public health, where she provides wellness care to pets of the homeless on the west coast.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Pain In The Bud:A new study says more than half of all US pet cats are overweight or obese. Why are so many cats so chonky?
Dr. Lewis:We Americans like everything big: cars, houses, and unfortunately pets. Too many people equate food with love for themselves as well as their kids and pets. Yet another reason for people to have a family veterinarian that they trust is to have someone objectively tell them if their pets are in the healthy size range.
PITB:How do cat owners react when you broach the subject?
Dr. Lewis:I’m glad I’m not in private practice. I feel uncomfortable telling people their pets are overweight because I happen to pack too many extra pounds myself. I’m nervous that when I tell pet owners their pets should lose weight, the owners will think to themselves that I should practice what I preach. (Although I try really hard to keep my own pets in decent weight so that I can practice what I preach from a professional perspective). However, when I have told people their pets can stand to lose some weight, I try to do it with humor so that the owners realize that I’m not making a judgement about them. Descriptions I’ve used to broach the subject include the pets appear Rubenesque. (One used by a particularly flamboyant resident that I had when I was a student.) I’ve also used roly-poly and fluffy. When the weight is in the severely large range, I have used round as a descriptor. Mostly, owners who realize their pets may have a problem really only want advice and that’s what I try to do for them, like I did for you when you wanted to put Buddy on calorie restriction. I also try to understand that it’s hard to lose weight, for oneself as well as their loved ones, whether two-legged or four.
PITB:What about cat owners? What’s the best way for those of us who aren’t veterinarians to determine if our cats are heavier than their ideal weight?
Dr. Lewis:Body condition is very subjective. Pets come in all sizes. This is especially true for dogs since there are such diverse breeds. Think about the extreme size and weight differences between a Chihuahua or Yorkie compared to a Great Dane or a Mastiff. Cats do have breeds, but for the most part there the size difference isn’t as extreme. Yet cats come in petite, average, and large frames. It’s not unusual for certain breeds like oriental short hairs to average only about 6 to 8 pounds and breeds like the Main Coon to average in the teens up to 25 pounds.
That’s why it’s important to have an objective determination of body condition. Use of the body condition scoring charts puts everyone on the same page when describing a pet’s body condition.
PITB:What about fur? Does the eye test work for long-haired and extra fluffy cats?
Dr. Lewis: Beyond having a chart, owners need to be trained on how to assess their pet’s body to compare to the chart beyond just a visual measurement. Fur can interfere with accurate visual assessments of how much fat a pet may be carrying. Pet owners should have their veterinarian show them how to feel (palpate) their pets to determine how much padding beyond the fur their pets have.
PITB:Okay, so let’s say we’ve committed, we’ve talked to the veterinarian and we have a plan. How should we handle the sometimes incessant meowing and crying from a hungry cat? After all, we wouldn’t be their servants if they weren’t so persuasive.
Dr. Lewis:Dealing with pets that show their displeasure in not eating whenever and whatever they want is difficult. I have my own pets so I can really empathize. My dogs are pretty good about only eating when they’re fed but my cat is another story. But as hard as it is, ignoring them does work. I don’t react to my cat when he starts screaming. I’ve certainly not given in to him by giving him food. So, he doesn’t usually bother to yowl at me when he thinks he should be fed. My husband does give in and when my cat sees my husband, he gets incredibly vocal and demanding. So we’ve each trained the cat to give us very different behaviors. In an effort to get my cat to stop being so demanding, I’ve trained him to dance for his food. He now knows that even when we get up to feed him, he still can’t just dive right into the food, he has to do some spins. I tend to make him spin more than my husband, and that’s another reason he isn’t quite as insistent about making me feed him. One thing my cat is really good about is that he doesn’t get physical with us when he wants food. He’s just loud. If a cat does tend to get physical, owner may have to engage them in a vigorous play session before feeding to dissipate some of that pent-up frustration and energy.
We’d like to thank Julia for taking the time to answer our questions and provide expert advice on a tough subject. Buddy, however, would not like to thank Julia for being complicit in the Great Treat Famine of 2019. He considers it a crime to come between a cat and his snacks.
Has your cat struggled to keep the pounds off? Tell us about it in the comments!
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.