Friday, December 3, 2010

Too fat for the cat flap: Vets warn the average moggy will be obese within a decade


Tubby cat: Britain's felines are getting fatter as they mirror humans by eating too much and not doing enough exercise

Many will have seen their owners pile on the pounds as obesity rates soar throughout the country.

And now the couch potato bug is spreading to cats, with vets warning half will be too fat to fit through a ­standard cat flap within ten years.

The average feline is expected to weigh 11lbs by 2020, officially obese for a normal sized animal and pushing the limits of conventional flaps.

Around a third of cats and dogs currently treated at surgeries are obese, with the excess weight creating serious health ­problems in many pets.

Experts say this will rise sharply as cats mirror the trend in humans for eating huge portions and failing to take enough exercise.

Many owners are also apparently blind to their pet’s weight problem, and are failing to control how much and what they eat.

The research by More Than Pet Insurance also found that 70 per cent of ­owners believe that their dog or cat has never been overweight, but the figures from vets demonstrate this cannot be the case.

Experts advise owners of fat cats to cut their pet’s portions by around one fifth and encourage play.

Leading veterinary surgeon, Dr Eric Jackson, said that careless owners were usually behind a cat’s weight problem, adding: ‘Sadly, we’re encouraging a nation of overweight and pampered pets.

‘It is often said that pets “grow” to become more like their owners. Certainly it is unusual to see a very trim person come in to the surgery with a very overweight pet.

‘Like humans, obese dogs and cats lose confidence. Through no fault of their own, pets are being assigned to daytime TV rather than physical activity, which leads to depression in the long term.’

Joe Inglis, resident vet of the BBC’s The One Show, said that fat cats are prone to serious health problems including heart disease, liver problems and arthritis.

He and More Than have launched a so-called ‘Cat Flap of the Future’ to deal with the problem. It has a travelator to carry a tubby tabby to the doors, which slide open to allow entry, and Mr Inglis suggests the system would have a paw pad that recognises the owner’s cat.

Alternatively, a computer chip in the cat’s collar could trigger the door to open to ensure only the owner’s animal enters. The ‘Cat Flap of the Future’ measures 13in wide by 14in tall, which compares with 6in by 8in for the traditional version.

More Than spokesman Pete ­Markey said: ‘We would recommend that pet owners take all the necessary steps to keep their pets fit and healthy.’

source: dailymail

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