Cats face an obesity crisis – and owners get the blame
IT looks like the cats really did get the cream – as obesity is now their second most common health complaint.
Indulgent owners may be too quick to reach for the treats, while not devoting enough time to playing with their pets for exercise, experts suggest.
Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College investigated the health of 18,249 cats in the UK over a year in 2019.
The most common illness diagnosed by vets was gum disease, which was seen in just over 15 per cent of cats. But the second most prevalent disorder was obesity, diagnosed in about 11.6 per cent – or one in nine – over that year.
Fat cats have a greater risk of problems including type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disease. So vets advise that overweight felines should receive medical care, which might include going on a diet.
Dan O’Neill, lead author of the paper published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, said: ‘Cats which previously, as wild animals, would have eaten mice and birds – and get lots of exercise catching them – are now more likely to be given delicious treats which are really calorific.’
He added: ‘Without a healthy balance between exercise and energy intake, it is no surprise that our pets, like us, are facing an obesity crisis.’
The study found cat obesity was about twice as common as fleas and overgrown nails, recorded in around five per cent of felines.
While the 11.6 per cent figure from 2019 has leapt from just 6.7 per cent in a similar study in 2013, vets may now be more vigilant and record obesity more often.
Danielle Gunn- Moore, coauthor of the study and professor of feline medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘I know myself how tough it is when your beloved cat asks for a few more kibbles. But we must remember that food is not love – it is far better to play a game with them.’