Fat Cats and Porky Pooches: “Pet Obesity,” Moral Panic, and Multi-Species Possibilities

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Abstract

Fat feline and canine bodies are increasingly medicalized in stories from veterinary journals that describe a “rising tide of pet obesity.” The construction of “obesity epidemics” and “pandemics” drive the storylines of these journals that claim fat bodies are at risk of increased pain during life and early death. Despite the authoritarian tone of the stories, few certainties and agreements exist within the literature. Yet the stories weave together with a fatphobic culture, technoscience, humanism, and neoliberalism to shape the types of choices available for “responsible pet owners” and practicing veterinarians. Laced with fatphobia, veterinary knowledges have the potential power to literally reshape the bodies of companion animals. For more accurate descriptions of reality and more diverse futures, science needs new stories that recognize and construct heterogenous ways of being and relating within and between species.

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