A Cats Protection survey reveals that around a quarter of Britain’s cats (23 per cent) are regarded by their owners to be overweight, yet continue to be fed too many treats.
The survey of 1,120 cat owners reveals that around seven in 10 cats (70 per cent) that were slightly, or very, overweight were given a special food treat at least once every week by their doting owners. And almost three in 10 (28 per cent) of felines described as ‘very or slightly overweight’ somehow managed to wangle a special treat at least once a day.
The survey also found that all cats – irrespective of their weight – were being fed special treats over Christmas that were not suitable for their health. Nearly one in 10 of all owners (eight per cent) fed their cats a special Christmas dinner consisting of human food, whilst some cats were even given chocolate (two per cent) stuffing (two per cent), and Christmas pudding (one per cent).
(Pic courtesy of CP Library)
Maggie Roberts, Cats Protection’s Director of Veterinary Services, said: “The survey showed that Britain’s overweight cats continue to be fed too many treats, which owners principally did out of love, habit or a desire to make their cat feel like a member of the family. However, overweight cats are at significant risk of diabetes and arthritis so there is the danger that owners are making a bad situation even worse.
“The survey also shows that it wasn’t uncommon for cats to be given treats such as milk, chocolate or cheese. All of these could make cats quite ill; many cats cannot digest cow’s milk products and chocolate contains a compound that can be toxic to cats. Cats are obligate carnivores and have to eat certain nutrients that can only be found in meat or commercial cat food.
“It’s not wrong to give treats to cats but it is advisable for owners to give ones that are specially formulated for cats, and consider their cat’s total calorific intake so that they can reduce their other food accordingly.”
Steve Miller, the cat loving host of Sky One’s Fat Families, agrees the survey findings are of concern. Steve, who owns two cats, has helped many human families to lose weight and is now calling on cat owners to help their pets do the same.
Steve said: “Feline obesity is on the increase yet the survey shows that some of us still can’t resist giving our cats extra treats at Christmas and at other times of the year.
“Interestingly, more than half of the owners who took part in the survey regarded themselves as overweight and expressed a desire to shed a few pounds. So if any owners are making a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, why not take the pet cat to the vet and ask if they could benefit from slimming down too?”
Cats Protection’s top tips for helping cats to eat well are:
– Stick to a reputable pet food which includes everything cats need to stay healthy
– When feeding your cat, stick to the manufacturer’s recommended feeding amount
– Avoid giving your cat fatty foods such as cheese, chocolate, crisps and other ‘human’ food. If you want to offer your cat a special treat, give him a little boiled fish or boneless chicken
For further advice on helping your cat to eat healthily, please contact Cats Protection’s national Helpline on 03000 12 12 12 or visit the Cats Protection website here.