As far as the house cats’ aesthetic future goes, there is only one guarantee: cats are getting fatter. Though environmental rather than genetic, this effect is extremely profound. Close to 60 percent of American pet cats are overweight or obese, and scientists report extremely rotund strays as well. I read endless news accounts of 31-pound feline Buddhas, 36-pound Meatballs, 35-pound pet McLovins. (A healthy weight is about a quarter of one of these kitties.)
So far, all this extra lard is humanity’s most significant contribution to the feline form. True, many of our animal affiliates are plumping up, and even the street rats of Baltimore are 40 percent heavier today, thanks in large part to our heartier garbage. But house cats represent an extreme case, for a variety of human-driven reasons in addition to the ever-richer delicacies they enjoy in their food dishes and our trash cans. Locking cats indoors prevents them from getting exercise, spaying and neutering lowers their metabolic rate, and cats’ delicate hypercarnivorous biology makes dieting extremely difficult.