Fat cats need slimming down

DOGGY delights and cat snacks could soon be a thing of the past after an animal charity expressed concern over plump pets.Veterinary charity PSDA has announced that vets are seeing many pets with health problems as a result of being overweight.

DOGGY delights and cat snacks could soon be a thing of the past after an animal charity expressed concern over plump pets.

Veterinary charity PSDA has announced that vets are seeing many pets with health problems as a result of being overweight.

Elaine Pendlebury, Senior Vet at the PDSA, said the number of overweight pets is increasing.

"Approximately one in four pets seen at PDSA PetAid hospitals are overweight. Pets are classified as overweight when they do not have a waistline.

"There are many problems with being overweight – difficulty moving, grooming and lethargy. But there is more awareness of it being a problem, which is a good thing."

Elaine said the variety of animal treats available could be to blame for overweight pets: "Quite often it is difficult for owners to resist giving animals treats.

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"For example, people have discovered that rats respond very well to chocolate, but it is not their natural food. It is best to think what animals would eat in the wild."

Smith Ryder-Davies and Partners Veterinary Surgery in Ipswich runs a free weight clinic for pets.

Helen O'Donnell said around half of the pets on their books are overweight, and agrees that treats are to blame: "Dog foods are so palatable and there are so many treats around.

"People think they are doing the right thing, and that their pets are just a bit big. Many do not realise their pets are overweight until someone else points it out."

Minstrel is a four-year-old cat and attends the weight clinics every month.

When owner Jake Rackham took him for his annual injection in November, the vet noticed he was overweight.

The furry feline tipped the scales at 8.2kg (18 pounds), but after being put on the diet, he lost half a kilo, and currently weighs in at 7.65kg (16.8 pounds).

Mr Rackham said the difference in Minstrel is noticeable: "There's been a definite improvement in him.

"He's an indoor cat so we have to give him a bit of exercise. He's very playful now since he's lost the weight."

Minstrel will continue the diet until he has reached 6kg (just over 13 pounds).

Another furry friend that visits the weight clinic is six-year-old Border Terrier Brandy. He began his diet in November when he weighed in at 12.8kg, which is just over two stone.

When he attended the clinic for the third time yesterday, student veterinary nurse Kim Gleed revealed that he had lost 0.6kg (just over a pound). He now weighs 12.2kg, which is just under two stone.

His Ipswich owner said: "I do take him for lots of walks and he runs up and down the garden. He's very playful."

Brandy's target weight is 7kg (just over a stone), and vets estimate it will take him 38 weeks to achieve this goal.

PDSA advises owners who are concerned about their pet's weight to contact their vet before implementing any changes to its diet.

They have devised a number of Responsible Pet Care leaflets, which are available by calling 0800 917 2509, or online at www.pdsa.org.uk

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