Categories: Weight

The reason why people are fascinated with fat domestic cats but discriminate against fat people

The NBC News author F. Diane Barth asks why fat animals such as cats are called ‘chonky’ and discussed with amusement on social media but fat people are often ridiculed or criticised. Fat animals can be celebrities on social media, they can be that popular.

A grossly obese domestic cat. Photo in public domain.

The reason for this version of speciesism is due to how we relate to animals compared to humans.

Many people still have difficulty in relating to cat companions as sentient beings, individuals with characters and with feelings and a mind of their own. A lot of people tend to relate to companion animals as possessions. Look at the way breeders make cats look like baby plush toys for instance. This is why PETA exists. PETA wants to break this form human behaviour and fundamentally alter the human-animal relationship.

Obese cat in meerkat position. Picture in public domain on Pinterest

As animals are indeed sentient beings this disconnect with reality allows people to be unconcerned about the health implications of a companion animal who is grossly obese. People don’t instantly feel concern for the health of the animal and they become an object of fascination rather than sympathy.

Another factor is that when cats become fat it is the fault of the cat’s owner not the cat, who is the victim of negligent cat caretaking. Therefore the cat is not criticised but the person is.

Of course people see other people as sentient beings and not possessions unless they are in the slave trade. Fat people are sometimes derided because they are meant to be in charge of their lives but have failed in respect of managing weight which is a very important aspect of health.

People perceive obese people as weak willed and to be looked down on (sometimes obesity is caused by medical reasons). Obese people can become irritating to people with correct BMIs for various reasons. The need for two seats on aircraft and walking slowly are two examples. This leads to discrimination against them.

Also obese people can contract type 2 diabetes because of their excess weight. This requires expensive medication which is free at the point of delivery in the UK. Fat people place an unnecessary and hugely expensive burden (£billions annually) on the National Health Service (NHS) when losing weight would ostensibly remove the burden by ‘curing’ the diabetes. This attracts annoyance in others and discrimination.

Personally I am sympathetic towards obese people because it is part of the human condition. We all have problems. We should be gentle with others. Although I hate fatness.

The way chonky cats become news stories and celebs is also wrong. It is objectifying animals as a source of amusement. Social media is voracious in its desire to amuse and abuse. It has to be funny or cruel.

The attitude of many people to both fat cats and fat people is wrong. That’s my point. What’s your opinion on this? Remember these are just my instant thoughts. They are personal and not necessarily correct.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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