Lancashire nutritionist's warning over fat cats

New research has found half of all adult cats are carrying too many extra pounds.
New research has found half of all adult cats are carrying too many extra pounds.
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A Lancashire nutrition expert is urging cat owners to watch their pet's weight as it’s revealed almost half of all adult cats are carrying too many extra pounds.

A new study says feeding your furry friend dry kibble could lead to an increased risk of your cat tipping the scales.

Nutritionist Jennifer Dean

Nutritionist Jennifer Dean

Feline nutritionists say it’s all to do with owners taking responsibility and abiding by portion controls.

Jennifer Dean, of leading pet food brand Webbox Natural, said: “Dry food is more energy dense and contains more calories per 100g.

“If you’re used to feeding your cat wet food then when feeding dry the bowl won’t look as full. In this sense, it might be tempting to top it up so you feel like you’re giving an adequate portion, when in fact you’re giving your cat far too much.”

The study, conducted by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, also revealed how overweight cats are more likely to be diagnosed with urinary tract infections, breathing issues, diabetes, skin disorders, struggle with their movement, and are more likely to suffer a trauma.

Data was collected from the medical records of over 1000 cats with information on body condition, breed, age, sex, neutering status, activity level and outdoor access analysed.

45 per cent of cats were found to be overweight, while just 22 per cent of owners recognised their cat as carrying too many extra pounds.

The cats ranged in ages from one to 21 years old, with British shorthair the most likely to be overweight, accounting for 65 per cent.

This was followed by Maine Coon cats at 44 per cent, and Ragdoll cats at 39 per cent. Birman and Persian breeds found to be less likely to be obese.

Male cats were also more likely to be overweight, accounting for 57 per cent.

So-called ‘greedy eaters’ were found to be most at risk.

Jennifer explained: “Cats prefer to eat little and often. We recommend three times a day.

“Dry food is actually very good for this, because owners can leave it out all day unlike wet food, which carries a risk of bacterial contamination.

“The key thing for owners to remember is to weigh the dry food. Wet food comes in pouches so you don’t have to weigh it, and if you’re used to that then you may be less inclined to weigh out the dry food. Not everyone wants to do it.”

Jennifer also reminded owners to keep their pets stimulated and exercised as a way of keeping weight under control.

She said: “Cats generally tend to portion control themselves, but if they are offered more they will eat more if they are kept in the house all day.

“Sometimes owners may think it’s nice to have a ‘cuddly’ cat, but it’s important to remember there are significant health risks associated with being overweight.

“Regardless of whether you choose wet or dry, the big thing with animals and obesity is always more owner awareness.”

Study author Malin Öhlund concluded: “We found a high prevalence of overweight in adult cats, similar to other reports.

“Having a greedy eating behaviour and being inactive were factors associated with overweight, as were diagnoses such as lower urinary tract disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, skin disorders and locomotor disease.

“Because overweight is a growing problem in both pets and people, there is a risk that our perception of what is actually a normal body condition is being slowly altered.”