Dangerous diets of our fat cats and hefty hounds - News - Pets - The Independent

Dangerous diets of our fat cats and hefty hounds

Animal welfare group says there are now six million severely overweight cats and dogs in Britain

Meet Fifi. She's no ordinary cat. In fact, at more than 9kg she is the size of two normal cats put together. Fifi (pictured below) will do whatever it takes to get food: pestering people into feeding her; stealing from other cats and even helping herself to bird food from the garden.

While the sheer size of Fifi and her elaborate efforts to eat may appear comical, she is an example of a growing health crisis among Britain's pets, according to the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), an animal welfare charity.

Another example of the animal obesity epidemic is Jumbo Jack, a springer spaniel whose love of food has led him to tip the scales at 22kg instead of the normal 10kg. Deco, a golden Labrador, weighs 55kg – virtually double what he should be. Perhaps his finest hour was getting through 36 buns in one sitting, although he did leave the empty cases lined up on the kitchen floor. In an attempt to stop him from eating everything in sight, his desperate owner has installed a safety gate to keep him out of the kitchen.

Behind the wry tales of greedy pets lies a serious issue, with millions of animals being overfed and dying earlier than they should, campaigners claim. One in three dogs and one in four cats are obese. That equates to 5.9 million fat pets staggering around the streets of Britain – 2.9 million dogs and three million cats.

People giving their animals too many treats instead of taking them for walks and not controlling their diet are among the causes.

The consequences can be fatal, with overweight animals at high risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and early death – two years early in the case of dogs. Pet owners should take their animals for exercise rather than always giving them treats, and should carefully monitor their pets' weight and food intake, according to the British Veterinary Association.

Getting that warning across to animals that like nothing better than eating is another matter.

To this end, animal welfare experts have attempted to get the message across to owners with the equivalent of a fat camp for animals. Some 18 contenders will find out on Thursday whether they have won the coveted pet slimming award organised by the PDSA. Care will be needed to make sure the winner doesn't relapse: the prize includes a year's supply of pet food.

Among the fancied contenders is Rottweiler Molly, who weighs 65kg. "I was in denial about how big Molly was," admits her owner Wayne Houlston, from Barnsley. "We didn't realise how serious it was until she had problems with her back legs and she couldn't stand up properly."

And Skippy, a springer spaniel, would regularly join the family for a Sunday roast. He ended up weighing 31kg. His owner, Marilyn Smith from Pontyclun, said: "In the past we would have a cooked dinner on a Sunday and he would have had his very own one served up in his own bowl as well. But all of that has stopped now that we know the harm it's doing him."

Sharon Dowman, from Basildon, has fought a running battle to get her monster cat, 9.7kg Mini-Moo, to lose weight. "She was grumpy at the start and one time I was having some sausages and she nicked one. She has lost weight though and she likes the diet food, so we're getting there."

People need to take the issue seriously, says Sean Wensley, a senior vet at the PDSA: "Pet obesity is a serious and widespread health and welfare issue. It's the most common medical disease that vets see now, When people see underweight animals they often see that as a welfare issue, whereas when they see an overweight pet often their instinct is to find it funny and that's a perception that we are trying to challenge."

Most vet surgeries now run free weight clinics where people can get their pets checked.

Serial offender Fifi is finally starting to shift the weight. But it could prove to be a mixed blessing.

"She can also now jump up easily onto the counter," said her owner, Monica Bottomley from Bradford. "I have to be even more careful that she doesn't steal my other cat's food!"

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week