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Health & Families

Taking after master: US pets obese, too, study finds

Just like their human masters, a majority of American pets have a weight problem, a study released Thursday says.

In its fourth yearly study of how fat Americans' four-legged furry friends are, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found that 53 percent of cats and more than 55 percent of dogs were overweight or obese.

That means there are around 50 million fat cats and 43 million pudgy dogs in the United States.

The study looked at 133 adult cats and 383 dogs.

Nearly a third of the cats were classified by their veterinarians as overweight and nearly 22 percent were deemed to be clinically obese, the study found.

Among the canines observed, 35 percent were found to be overweight and 20.6 percent were obese.

"We're seeing a greater percentage of obese pets than ever before," said Dr Ernie Ward, founder of APOP.

In 2007, roughly 19 percent of cats and a mere 10 percent of dogs were found in the APOP study to be obese - defined for the family pet as having a body weight that is 30 percent greater than normal.

"This is troubling because it means more pets will be affected by weight-related diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease," the same illnesses that afflict obese humans, Ward said.

American cats and dogs are doing slightly better, in obesity terms, than their masters and mistresses, around one in three of whom is obese.