Optimizing Companion Cats: Feline Agility, Biopower, and Possibilities of Interspecies Care in Sport

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The increasingly popular sport of feline agility animates human and feline bodies through the construction of rules, obstacles, technologies, and norms. Feline agility, then, involves the management and control of the lives and bodies of both species to meet the expectations of agility competition. In extending Michel Foucault’s concept of biopower to analyze interspecies sport, the current paper suggests two prominent governing organizations of feline agility, International Cat Agility Tournaments (ICAT) and Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), construct human and feline subjects based on a binary construction of a human, capable of acting responsibly, and a feline that lacks a capacity for responsibility. Consequently, humans are constructed as “agility citizens” and are responsibilized to perform the training, enhancement, and optimization of human and feline lives and bodies in the image of normative lifestyle and health dictates pursued principally through acts of consumption. Within narratives of “agility citizenship,” the human subject is positioned to control the feline subject, obscuring and negating feline agency and resistance. Donna Haraway’s concept of “response-ability” is suggested as one avenue to promote interspecies flourishing in sport.

Bunyak is with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA.

Address author correspondence to Garrett Bunyak at gbunyak@gatech.edu.
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