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Chonks: The Internet Craze That Promotes Unhealthy Cats


Last Updated on: May 3, 2023 by Crystal Uys

If I were to open my Instagram account and mindlessly scroll through the media buffet, I would undoubtedly see pictures and videos of chonky cats.

What do I mean by chonk? I mean pudgy, cuddly, fat cats. Photos as far as the eye can see of furry butterballs showing off their tum tums, ready to bunny kick any fingers that dare scratch the surface.

There is no hiding the chonk. How could you? It spills over and off to the side, like bread baking around twine in a hilarious fashion. Needless to say, the internet is full of chonky cats. But as quickly as we laugh, we must question whether our love for fat cats promotes unhealthy pets (the answer is yes).

Fupa Isn’t Fat

To be clear, fupa is not chonk. When your cat scurries down the hallway, runs up the cat tree, or plops onto the floor, you almost always see its fupa waddle. That’s called the primordial pouch, a chunk of fat, skin, and fur most noticeable in matured cats and larger breeds.1

Although the pouch looks funny, it protects your cat’s vital organs and allows for more flexibility. However, it’s only noticeable on the underbelly.

Fat, on the other hand, accumulates around the body in several places. So, the next time you see your cat’s fupa waddle, you can unapologetically pat the belly.

a white cat with primordial pouch
Image Credit: Phrakrit Juntawong, Shutterstock

Cat Obesity Has Always Existed, But Not Like Now

Fat cats have been a part of this world for a while. Occasionally, you’d find a chunky cat chasing down its next meal after finishing a snack inside the house. But these fat cats were few and far between.

Now, the opposite is true. Fat cats are everywhere and glorified on the internet as hilarious videos and memes.

We laugh when they faceplant into guacamole and viciously tear apart a piece of bread from the grocery bag. We chuckle when our cats struggle to reach parts of their bodies to properly groom themselves. And we smash those like buttons when cats show us their chonky bellies.

How did cats get to this point? A better question is, how did we let this happen? A few factors are at play, but one thing is certain: the problem isn’t the cat.

Cats No Longer Have to Hunt

Cats have it made. They no longer need to hunt to survive, at least most cats don’t. Even outdoor cats can occasionally bet on a nice person leaving cat food on the porch.

Image Credit: Andreas Almstedt, Pixabay

Food Quality

Good, quality cat food comes with a price many can’t or aren’t willing to pay. Cheap food contains filler ingredients that a wild domestic cat wouldn’t normally eat. Granted, these fillers help our cats stay fuller for longer. But they’re also packing on the pounds with added calories.

Exercise and Portion Control

Wild domestic cats roam for several miles, chasing and hunting creatures for their next meal. It’s great exercise that a house cat can’t access on a whim.

On top of that, owners tend to overfeed their cats through free feeding or simply not knowing how much to offer. A determined, hungry cat will also hustle from one food bowl to another, eating scraps other pets left behind.

Internet Fame

Admit it—you’ve thought about making an Instagram account for your cat. Most cat owners have considered it, and several have done it.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with showing off your cat’s unique features and personality. But at some point, we stopped caring about our pets and instead started chasing likes, comments, shares, and stories. We’ve chosen internet fame over our cat’s life, and it’s not in the best interest of our fur babies that we claim to love so much.

orange cat looking in a mirror
Image credit: Eduard Delputte, Unsplash

Unsubscribe From Unhealthy

You know the expression “You vote with your dollar”? In this case, you vote with your subscription.

I admit my guilt of following fat animals online. However, after spending time in the veterinary field, I quickly unsubscribed from these accounts. The number of cats entering the clinic with diabetes, cancer, joint problems, and more was alarming.

We must stop glorifying obesity in animals and start praising the cat owners who value the health and vitality of their pets. Cats should be praised for their agility, athleticism, and beauty, not how similar they look to Jabba the Hut.

We are responsible to our feline friends to keep them as healthy as possible. Indeed, cats come in many different shapes and sizes. But a cat can be cuddly without having fat rolls.

Featured Image Credit: Dennis van de Water, Shutterstock

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