London - It is not only humans who are facing an obesity crisis – the world's moggies are, too. Overfeeding and lack of exercise mean 40 percent are overweight.
Now owners are being urged to make sure their pets get a daily workout. It is particularly important for the one in ten of the UK’s 11 million cats that spend their lives indoors, says vet Dr Carolina Vilches Romo.
She warns that many owners underestimate how much exercise their cats need. Dr Romo, an expert in feline medicine and surgery, suggests trying hunting games and even hamster-style wheels.
"We’re not recommending that people start walking their cat on a lead like a dog, as this can cause distress to an animal that is fiercely independent and craves control," she said.
"But house cat owners should be creating a daily exercise routine for their pet through active play and stimulation."
Dr Romo says cats that never go outside unsupervised should get at least 30 minutes’ exercise a day.
"It’s in your cat’s DNA to want to use short bursts of energy to hunt, jump and play, so try to incorporate these into your exercise routine," she said.
"You should be aiming for 10 to 15 minutes, several times a day. Hunting-type games work well, where you encourage your cat to chase or stalk something. They also love to bat toys around and chase after them.
"The key thing is finding what works for you and which your cat loves."