Confident and regal even in corpulency, no animal on earth is quite as lovable as the common house cat. To capture these cats in the full resplendence of their chunk, Canadian photographer Pete Thorne broke out his wide lenses. The result, Fat Cats, is a coffee table book of pleasantly plump portraits, featuring some of the world’s fattest felines.
Thorne began shooting Fat Cats after finishing his previous series, Old Faithful, a book of portraits of extremely old dogs. After that challenge, he wanted to immortalize a different kind of underappreciated pet: the chunky cat, such as the Garfields, Munchkins, and Tubcats of the world.
“The prevalent image of the fat cat today in the media is cynical and not silly,” Thorne says. “The fat cat is a space for low-grade brutishness and malaise: cats posed with beer bottles, cats stuck in doors, cats seemingly contemplating whether they would like to eat other, less-fat cats. In short: unhealthy cats, meant to be mocked and shamed.”
Instead, Thorne wanted to show that fat could be beautiful, in felines as well as humans. “It’s 2016!” Thorne exclaims. “We have also made leaps and bounds in awareness and understanding that all body types can be beautiful and all body shapes can be healthy. These grand and portly cats celebrate that sentiment. Sure, they are fat. But they are also kind, complex, distinguished, smart, silly, and beautiful.”
One thing cats aren’t, though, is patient, making shooting his subjects something of a chore, and requiring a lot of time off-camera spent jiggling toy mice. “Having photographed a large number of cats so far and having spoken to their owners one thing became clear: you own a dog, but a cat owns you. They are in charge,” he says. To accentuate their beauty, Thorne shoots his cats with soft, flattening lights, so their fur seems almost to grow.
So far, Thorne says he has photographed 35 different cats, but will have photographed 150 portly kittens by the time Fat Cats starts shipping to Kickstarter supporters later this year. You can pre-order a copy of the book there for around $35.