Watch Malcolm Shaw's report
With lots of us spending more time at home over the past 10 months, the number of overweight cats in the UK is rising, as owners are tempted to feed their pets more.
In a recent survey by the Cats Protection charity, looking at more than 2,000 cat owners, more than a quarter (28%) said they had overfed their pet since the start of lockdown in March 2020. Over a third (36%) said their cat visited neighbours for a bonus feed and overall, one in five cats (20%) had typically gained between 2-2.5 kilograms in weight.
This is on top of a survey carried out before the start of the pandemic, which highlighted that at least 3.2 million owned cats were already overweight.
The charity says owners have been spoiling their cats with extra treats, and well-wishing neighbours may also be overindulging any feline visitors. However, overweight cats are at significant risk of diabetes, joint problems and urinary infections.
The charity is now giving cat owners the following advice:
Weigh out cat food daily so you are not overfilling bowls.
If giving your cat treats, reduce the overall amount of food you provide them.
Avoid giving your cat human treats such as milk or cheese as many cats cannot digest cows’ milk products.
Ask neighbours to help your cat by not feeding them. This is especially important if your cat is on a special diet or medication. Consider affixing a simple paper collar to your cat stating that your cat is on a diet and politely requesting neighbours to avoid putting out food.
Five year old Paisley weighed 10.75kgs – twice her recommended weight – when she was brought to Cats Protection last year. She was so large she couldn’t move properly or reach round to groom herself. After being put on a specially prescribed diet she was adopted by James Frankland, 52, from Hove, East Sussex, who was determined to help her reach a healthy weight.
Initially, James kept Paisley on a vet-prescribed diet and was later able to move her to normal cat food, while sticking to responsible portion sizes. He also introduced more play. Thanks to James’s love and dedication, Paisley has lost more than three kilos so far. She’s already gained lots of energy, and as her risk of health complications is now lower, she’s likely to live longer too.