Chonk v. Obesity

I have five roommates. The married couple from whom I rent, and I’ve been close with for decades, and their three rescue cats: Shuri is our new bleppy baby, and the sister act of Moxie and Josie.

Josie is a pistol. She is also a tripod. She needed her front right leg amputated as a kitten due to an injury while living on the streets of Baltimore, MD. She gives me lots of belly and is very vocal when she feels she is owed treats, which is often.

Moxie is the epitome of a scaredy cat, and that’s probably why she still has all her limbs. She has these dainty “princess paws” when she crosses her arms when she’s at rest. I have dozens of pictures because it’s just perfect.

Sidebar: They have an Instagram @moxi_and_jojo (If you’re familiar with 1990s R&B you’ll see what we did there.)

They’re bonded sisters and definitely part Maine Coone which makes them the prettiest, funniest, furriest BBs and a joy to cohabitate with. They’re also pretty thiccc. 

Moxie has striking good looks, a lovely shape, and her seated silhouette looks like a dignified lady in a dress. She’s maybe 5 lbs. above ideal weight, and my objectivity is constantly challenging my warm fuzzies.

I don’t like it, but facts are facts: Chonks are in and obesity is unhealthy. Not surprisingly, Chonk celebration vs. clinical obesity is a real struggle for all pet lovers. It’s like the Juggernaut vs. The Blob – they’re equally matched and no one wins. And it’s not just cats! 

October 11 was Pet Obesity Awareness Day, which makes total sense with all the food we’re about to eat and share with our pets; candy apples in October, Thanksgiving leftovers in November, then we round out the year with endless parties featuring candles, gifts, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails i.e. human treats.

Religious observance aside, the gist of American Capitalism is consumption, and that is largely how we show love to our pets as well as each other. Shuri, Moxie and Josie get full stockings every Christmas and it is super fun helping them unwrap their goodies.

The roomies are at ComicCon this weekend so I’m on kitty duty. When looking for their treats to lure them into my lair, I end up rifling through their little outfits and hats, their toothpaste and nail clippers, bowties, harnesses and leash. Literally five vessels of catnip (one is in bubble form!).

It is so much fun to spoil our little pals, but excessive treats are not a healthy love language, and there are so many alternatives that can be interactive and low calorie! As pet parents and pet adjacent humans we are responsible for their quality of life, and I am proud to say that Christina and Angel are wonderful pet parents and I am a super cool pet aunt.

Tips & Tricks

  • Invest in good toys so you use all that catnip that you’ve acquired. And use the catnip! That stuff gets stale and weak the longer it exists. Some toys can be refilled like the Shelby Cat toy and the Catnip mats by Janery.
  • West Paw's Funnl with a Earth Animal No-Hide for Boredom Busting!Boredom busters can be prolonged into a problem solving exercise for your dog or cat – put some peanut butter or fresh whole foods (canned or dehydrated) into a toy and freeze it, so they have something to do if you’re gone for several hours. 
  • Don’t like the idea of buying more toys? Wrap some treats in an old towel and tie it into knots. It’s hours of fun for a large dog. You can also get a Hol-ee Roller ball by JW Pets and stuff those rags into it for an even more challenging DIY re-stuffable toy.
  • Doc & Phoebe's Hunting FeedersWe are big fans of hunting feeders to help with cats that are bit chunky. Doc & Phoebe’s mice are just one of the ways in which you can fill, hide, hunt and repeat! There are lots of options available to help get them more active during feeding time!
  • Is paying for a dog walker not your thing? Then get active and out there with doggy yoga or other forms of pet fitness. There are trainers out there who hold these workshops for all fitness levels.

Not looking to work on balance and stamina?

  • Take your dog on a leisure walk where they have time to smell the roses, not just wee on them. (Which is rude btw. Try not to let that happen. Be present on walks and nip it in the bud before they assume the position.)

Maybe we are guilty of romanticizing their physical features and indulging their demands for treats, and maybe we tell ourselves it’s okay because they also have a very high quality of life with no signs of arthritis or other chronic, debilitating issues. But that’s no the only line that we walk.

Obese animals are also at an increased risk for cancer, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, hypertension, osteoarthritis and faster degeneration of affected joints, urinary bladder stones, and anesthetic complications.

Body positivity is long overdue but it doesn’t negate the various dangers of obesity.

“…a large lifetime study of Labrador Retrievers has found that being even moderately overweight can reduce a dog’s life expectancy by nearly two years compared to their leaner counterparts.”

~ VCA Animal Hospitals