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Fat felines fed too many treats, says survey

15 February 2013
Fat felines fed too many treats, says survey 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 ten 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 ten (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 are not suitable for their health. Nearly one in ten of all owners (8 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 (1 per cent).

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 treats 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 healthily 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 www.cats.org.uk

Ends

For media enquiries, please contact Cats Protection’s Media Office on 01825 741 911 or email media.office@cats.org.uk

Notes to editors
1. The survey was conducted by ICM Research on behalf of Cats Protection. 1,120 cat owners aged 18 and over in Great Britain were surveyed online between 27 December 2012 and 4 January 2013. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information is at www.icmresearch.com
2. Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity and helps over 235,000 cats through a national network of 260 volunteer-run branches and 30 adoption centres. The charity’s vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs.
3. Founded as the Cats Protection League in 1927, the charity adopted the name Cats Protection in 1998. We ask that you use the name Cats Protection when referring to the charity in all published material.