We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but apparently, the odds are your cat is stepping out on you.
A new survey of 1,000 cat owners from pet food makers Lily’s Kitchen has found that one in three felines are getting fed by others outside the home, and nearly two-thirds of the pet parents (64%) said their cat actively visits other people.
Some moggies really stick the knife in by standing their owners up, with 34% saying their pet stays out all hours of the day and night, and their outings last five or more hours every day.
If your cat is getting fed by others in the neighbourhood as well as by you, your little bud could find themselves with a bit of a weight problem on their paws. After all, it doesn’t take much overfeeding for there to be an impact.
Indeed, one in six pet parents (14%) have put their cat on a diet because they get fed seconds and even thirds by their neighbours, and 16% believe their cat is overweight because their meals are being supplemented by well-meaning locals.
What’s more is that these cheating kitties are sowing discord, with 17% saying they’ve fallen out with neighbours over them feeding their cats, and 34% said their cat getting dinner out was causing them genuine stress.
Nicky Trevorrow, Cats Protection’s behaviour manager, says: ‘Obesity is a significant welfare issue for our feline friends that can affect their health and behaviour.
‘All cat caregivers should ensure that they feed a good quality, complete food and avoid feeding too many titbits.
‘It’s important for caregivers to keep an eye on their cat’s weight. You should be able to feel your cat’s ribs easily when you stroke their body lightly, and you should clearly see a waistline when you look at them from above.
‘If you are in any doubt, speak to a veterinary professional about your cat’s weight and how best to reduce it if necessary.
‘However, even the most diligent owners can still face difficulties with their majestic moggie and their weight, if their cat has a penchant for scoping out food at the neighbour’s house.
‘If a cat spends a lot of time at the neighbour’s house, it is important to consider why that may be. In a lot of instances it can be that they get extra food and treats there – this, of course, is very enticing and reinforces the cat’s inclination to visit.’
If you want to try and discourage your cat from getting their jollies elsewhere, you Nicky says you should try to keep your home free of stressors and full of enriching activities they enjoy.
‘Many cats will avoid their homes if there are a lot of stressors present, for example, non-socially bonded cats, toddlers or other stressors,’ explains Nicky. ‘It is therefore always worth evaluating your home set-up to see if it is actively encouraging your cat to go seeking other homes and additional meals.
‘For all cats, but especially indoor-only cats, it is important to provide them with plenty of play and enrichment to keep them active and burning off calories. A few short play sessions, with a good fishing rod toy, spread throughout the day can help with this.’
Samantha Crossley, marketing director at Lily’s Kitchen, said: ‘As a pet parent, choosing proper food that your cat goes wild for may well reduce the chance of them dining out, or prowling for a takeaway and piling on the pounds.
‘Exeter University’s recent study found that feeding cats food containing proper meat has a number of benefits including a reduction in hunting behaviours… it may leave them satisfied enough to reduce their visits to no. 31 as well.’
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