A lot of people think fat cats are cute. But in reality, obesity is as much of a health threat to our beloved felines as it is to us. Overweight cats are at great risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and joint problems.
Over the last four years, British charity PDSA has assessed the weight and general health of cats across the UK, and at this point one in four cats is considered severely overweight.
To help fight the animal obesity epidemic, PDSA has launched the Pet Fit Club, a weight-loss campaign for the 11 fattest pets in the UK.
Six cats and five dogs have been selected to participate in a diet and exercise regimen designed to get them back to their normal weight.
The feline participants include ginger tomcat Percy, who weighs in at 21 pounds, making him 97 percent overweight–the equivalent of a 5-foot, 6-inch woman weighing 300 pounds. Percy suffers from diabetes as a result of his massive obesity.
When Rebecca Hougham adopted Percy a year and a half ago, he was already overweight. She has been trying to get him to slim down ever since.
“We really want him to lose weight so that he lives a long and healthy life,” she said, “but we need PDSA’s help as we have been trying and nothing seems to be working.”
Tigger, a black and white cat from Manchester currently weighs almost 18 pounds, making her about 80 per cent overweight. Tigger should weigh about 7 pounds.
Owner Debbie Bagshaw rescued the former stray cat eight years ago after finding her underweight with a terrible flea and tick infestation. “When we first took her in she was skin and bone, so we gave her extra portions to feed her up and we just never stopped,” she said.
Lady, a white cat from Kent, is also in the final, weighing in at 18 pounds.
Louise Lane, Lady’s owner, said, “Lady had skin cancer earlier this year and had to have the tips of her ears removed, so I think we’ve compensated for that by spoiling her.
“On top of her normal cat food she used to get bowls of milk or cream every day and scraps of meat that we didn’t finish – including ‘cat bags’ that I’d bring home from restaurants for her. She also has a very sweet tooth and loves chocolate and ice cream.”
She is joined by black and white cat Pie from Cheshire, who weighs in at 18.5 pounds. Pie is so fat that he once got stuck under a fence.
The other two feline finalists are Badger, 19 pounds; and Socks, 18 pounds.
PDSA senior veterinary surgeon Elaine Pendlebury said, “Overweight pets are less mobile, less willing to play and more likely to develop a number of serious health conditions and have a reduced life expectancy. The good news is it’s never too late to achieve positive change with the help of your veterinary practice.”
Dr Alex German of the University of Liverpool Veterinary School said, “PDSA is doing great work in highlighting this important animal welfare issue. It’s vital that owners recognize their pet’s weight problem, seek veterinary advice and do something about it.
“PDSA is putting the spotlight on the pet obesity epidemic and offering practical help to improve the quality of life of the participating pets.”
PDSA provides free veterinary care to the sick and injured pets of people in need and promotes responsible pet ownership.