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The UK’s pet cats have been getting fatter in lockdown

Over three million of the UK’s pet cats are overweight and the problem has only been getting worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a survey of over 2,000 cat owners, more than a quarter (28%) said they had overfed their pet since the start of lockdown in March 2020.

overweight black-and-white cat sat on blue fleece blanketPodgey Paisley when she first arrived in our care weighing 10.75kg

Over a third (36%) said their cat visited neighbours for a bonus feed and overall, one in five cats (20%) had typically gained between one and 2.25 kilograms in weight.

This echoes the findings in our CATS (Cats And Their Stats) 2020 UK report, carried out before the start of the pandemic, that highlighted at least 3.2 million owned cats were already overweight.

overweight black-and-white cat sitting on blue fleece on chairPaisley needed help to clean herself as she was so overweight 

How can you help fat cats who have piled on the pounds during the pandemic lose weight?

Maggie Roberts, Director of Veterinary Services for Cats Protection, said: “This survey suggests the extra time we’ve spent indoors with our cats has led to us over-indulging them, which owners did out of love or to make their feline feel like a family member. Sadly we are doing them more harm than good as overweight cats are at significant risk of diabetes, joint problems and urinary infections.

“At a time of year when many of us go on a diet, it’s advisable to ask your vet if your cat needs one too.”

One cat currently on a weight loss regime is Paisley. The five-year-old moggy weighed 10.75kg – twice her recommended weight – when she was brought to Cats Protection in October 2019.

overweight black-and-white cat sitting on wooden floorPaisley has lost more than 3kg in her new home

After being put on a specially prescribed diet by the team at our National Cat Adoption Centre, she was adopted by James Frankland from Hove, East Sussex who has continued with Paisley’s slimming plan.

“I felt so sorry for Paisley when I first met her,” said James. “She was so large she couldn’t move properly or reach around to groom herself. I have a deep love of cats and was determined to help her reach a healthy weight.

black-and-white cat grooming itself with legs in the airPaisley is now slim enough to groom herself again 

“Initially she was following a vet-prescribed diet and I later moved her to normal cat food while sticking to responsible portion sizes. Paisley begged for food most days so I usually bought her off with a catnip toy or a bit more play to help her get more exercise.

“She is now getting used to normal sizes of cat food and has lost more than three kilos. Although she is still two kilos from her ideal weight, she’s already so much more agile and lively. I have no doubt it’s extended her lifespan.”

two black-and-white cats sat on grey sofaPaisley (right) with her brother Papillon (left)

For lots of advice on how to help an overweight cat get down to a healthy size, visit our cat obesity guide.

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