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A Cats Protection survey reveals that around a quarter of Britain’s cats (23 per cent) are regarded by their owners to be overweight, yet continue to be fed too many treats. The survey of 1,120 cat owners reveals that around seven in 10 cats (70 per cent) that were slightly, or very, overweight were given a special food treat at least once every week by their doting owners. And almost three in 10 (28 per cent) of felines described as ‘very or slightly overweight’ somehow managed to wangle a special treat at least once a day.
The survey also found that all cats – irrespective of their weight - were being fed special treats over Christmas that were not suitable for their health. Nearly one in 10 of all owners (eight per cent) fed their cats a special Christmas dinner consisting of human food, whilst some cats were even given chocolate (two per cent) stuffing (two per cent), and Christmas pudding (one per cent).
Maggie Roberts, Cats Protection’s Director of Veterinary Services, said: “The survey showed that Britain’s overweight cats continue to be fed too many treats, which owners principally did out of love, habit or a desire to make their cat feel like a member of the family. However, overweight cats are at significant risk of diabetes and arthritis so there is the danger that owners are making a bad situation even worse.
“The survey also shows that it wasn’t uncommon for cats to be given treats such as milk, chocolate or cheese. All of these could make cats quite ill; many cats cannot digest cow’s milk products and chocolate contains a compound that can be toxic to cats. Cats are obligate carnivores and have to eat certain nutrients that can only be found in meat or commercial cat food.
“It’s not wrong to give treats to cats but it is advisable for owners to give ones that are specially formulated for cats, and consider their cat’s total calorific intake so that they can reduce their other food accordingly.”
The British Horse Society has set up a network of volunteers to support horse owners who are struggling with the decision of whether to put their animal to sleep.
Lee Hackett from the welfare department at VHS says the charity regularly receives calls about "old much-loved horses" whose owners seem unwilling to have them euthanised. Owners have a variety of reasons for avoiding euthanasia, but tend to find the decision even more difficult when the horse is not old but suffers from a chronic injury or behavioural issues.
"More and more people simply cannot afford to have field ornaments," he says, "yet often the horse is not suitable to be sold on. Some people assume a charity will be able to take the horse on, but this is hardly ever the case."
The initiative by the BHS is in part a response to the growing number of neglected or abandoned horses being referred to charities. British charities do not have the resources or room to handle the numbers being referred. The BHS has trained 100 of its welfare officers around the country to act as advisors and provide support to owners considering euthanasia. They have been trained in bereavement counselling as well as horse welfare. Named "Friends at the End", the volunteers will also attend the euthanasia if the owner feels unable to.
More information can be found by contacting the BHS welfare team on firstname.lastname@example.org