So you’ve seen a fat cat on the internet, blowing up your FYP on TikTok or your Explore page on Insta, and you have the urge to start typing away and share warnings about the dangers of obesity or calling out “animal abuse”. If you feel like you must insert yourself into a situation to discuss the weight of an animal, you need to remember that there are ways to effectively communicate with people about pet obesity.
Leaving random comments about diabetes or making accusatory statements about animal abuse is not the way to get through to an owner when it comes to discussing their pet’s weight. From our experience, having a fat cat with a large online platform, there are a few reasons why people make comments about a pet’s weight:
- Genuinely care about the animal and it’s wellbeing (whether or not they delivery that information effectively is another issue)
- Clout chasing or wanting attention
- Fatphobia deeply rooted in their personality
If you feel like you identify with point #1 – that you’re making these comments because you genuinely care about the health and wellbeing of the animal – then you need to learn how to effectively communicate with people about pet obesity.
If you don’t identify with point #1, then you’re just a judgemental troll who only has the confidence because they’re hiding behind a keyboard. Stay mad or go to therapy.
How to Communicate with People about Pet Obesity: 6 Tips
If you’re a regular person on the internet and you feel the need to make a comment about the size of an animal, here’s what you need to know about how to communicate with people about pet obesity so that they’ll listen to you.
#1 – Be an expert in feline obesity
If you’re not an expert in feline obesity, you really have no place inserting yourself into the conversation. Someone’s personal opinion about what may be a health matter doesn’t add value to the conversation unless the post was specifically asking for people to share their personal opinions.
Feline obesity, like human obesity, is a complex topic that is often multi-causal and does not have a “quick fix”. It’s not always as simple as “calories in vs. calories out”, there are many other factors at play. It is not up to the owner to teach you about their cat or about feline obesity when you’re the one inserting yourself into a conversation. If you want to genuinely learn more, there are many resources you can look into starting on our page (with many others linked from there!)
#2 – Learn about the cat’s history
If you’ve decided to skip over the first step, then make sure you’re taking the time to learn about the cat’s history including what interventions they may currently be used for weight loss, what interventions they’ve tried in the past, and what they’ve found success in thus far. Make sure to pay close attention to any indication of the cat’s medical history and possible comorbidities, complicated or other unrelated but existing factors that complicate the situation. This means reading through posts, comments, and archives.
If you’re the one inserting yourself into the conversation, it’s your responsibility as a concerned person, to do your due diligence.
#3 – Reflect on your reasons for bringing it up
If you’re not willing to dig through a person’s post history or check out their other social platforms or website to learn more about the cat, you need to ask yourself why you have the urge to comment and if you’re really doing it because you care or if it’s something else.
A person that says they care about something but who are also unwilling to do the work are often lying to themselves. They’re telling themselves they care, but really, they don’t want to face the fact that they may be sad, upset, angry, or have other negative feelings that they aren’t processing and instead, they’re playing the role of keyboard warrior for a quick hit of serotonin.
#4 – Come with resources handy
If you choose to comment and start the discussion, be prepared to come up with resources. There are many reasons why a cat can be overweight and a lot of them contribute to either a lack of education or a misunderstanding of education. Owners think they’re doing everything right but they actually need more guidance. So go into the conversation with resources that you can back up. Finding a list of vets in the owner’s area who specializes in feline obesity management can be a great start.
#5 – Be respectful of the words you choose
When you approach the conversation, make sure to not use blame language or words that can trigger a person. Telling someone their cat will die of diabetes is not a way to get buy-in from the owner. Also, make sure to refrain from personal attacks against the owner – this is also not the way to get the owner to listen to your message.
If you don’t think you can regular yourself enough to have a respectful conversation and not resort to shocking statements or personal attacks, then you shouldn’t be having that conversation.
#6 – Listen, learn, and hold yourself accountable
One of the most important aspects of learning to communicate with people about pet obesity is a person’s willingness to listen when the owner shared information. Put aside your own biases and genuinely listen. Pet owners do now owe anyone education – but oftentimes, pet owners will reply with a brief explanation of interventions that are currently being undertaken. If you find yourself in a position where the owner has called out your lack of knowledge, respect or doing your due diligence in learning about the animal – hold yourself accountable for what you said and apologize.
If you’re big enough to make those statements on a public platform, then you’re big enough to apologize on it, too.
TLDR; How to Communicate with People about Pet Obesity
I thought this goes without saying, but clearly, some folks need a reminder.
How to Communicate with People about Pet Obesity: Conclusion
Learning how to communicate with people about pet obesity really isn’t that hard – but it does require one to reflect on why you want to even engage in that discussion in the first place. Truthfully, these conversations should be happening between owners and their veterinary care team – not with strangers on the internet who are not experts in feline medicine or know the history of the cat. Not everything needs your opinion, but if you’re doing to insist on it – follow the above steps for a chance at having a respectful, educated, and productive discussion.