US raises a generation of fat cats as obesity spreads to nation's pets

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The Independent US

It is not only humans who suffer the scourge of excess weight in our consumption saturated Western world. Our pets do too.

The evidence is in a report by the National Research Council in Washington, which says one quarter of our pets are obese: the same proportion as adults in the US with the same condition.

According to The Nutrient Requirements of Cats and Dogs, an adult dog weighing 35lbs should consume about 1,000 kilocalories a day, while the average 10lb cat needs only 275. But owners worried about their pets' erratic eating habits often go far beyond these guidelines. Fast food is becoming as big a menace to pets as to us, bringing similar risks such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

A dog, says the report, will happily eat its entire daily energy requirement in a few minutes at a single session. But cats are fussier, mainly because in the wild they dine on a dozen or so very small animals or birds a day. So feed your cat not one or two big meals every day, but a dozen tiny helpings.

But by and large, both species are uncannily like us. Given the chance of eating their fill whenever they want, between 30 and 40 per cent of them will become overweight or obese. A dog is probably overweight if you cannot feel its ribs; the well sculpted cat should have a slight waist but no roundness of tummy.

Sounds just like us - and so too do the remedies suggested by the council: smaller helpings, fewer calories and less tasty food.