Nearly a quarter of owners admit their cats are overweight but continue to feed them treats, according to a new charity survey.

Nearly a quarter of owners admit their cats are overweight but continue to feed them treats, according to a new charity survey.

The poll of 1,120 owners, commissioned by Cats Protection, also found that 70% of those animals described as slightly or very overweight by their owners were given some form of treat at least once a week. Further, nearly a third (28%) of those overweight animals were fed treats at least once a day.

Fifi the cat, one of the 2012 PDSA Pet Fit Club slimmers before her weight lossResults from the survey also showed that all cats, regardless of their weight, were fed unsuitable, even dangerous food over the Christmas period, with nearly 10% giving their cat a special Christmas dinner of human food.

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.”

Elsewhere, 90% of cat owners surveyed as part of the last year’s (2012) PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report admitted to feeding their pet treats, with more than half (56%) of owners with overweight felines unable to recognise their cat was actually fat.   

Steve Miller, host of Sky One’s Fat Families, took an interest in the Cats Protection survey and said he was concerned by the findings.

He said: “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 eat well are:

  • Stick to a reputable pet food which includes everything cats need to stay healthy
  • 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

Fifi the fat cat picture courtesy of PDSA
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