Pet Owners Sacrifice Health of Family Cats to Beat the Credit Crunch

Pet owners are sacrificing the health of the family cat in a bid to beat the credit crunch, it was revealed yesterday (Tuesday).

A whopping 53 per cent of cat owners are replacing cat food with human meals such as takeaway, roast dinners and fried foods such as bacon and sausages.

And a quarter of those polled believe they are saving hundreds of pounds a year by giving the cat their meals.

But vets have warned Brits are endangering the lives of their pets - who can suffer from malnourishment, obesity, diarrhoea and severe vomiting.

And pet owners are wasting £110million each year on unnecessary vet fees caused by poor diet.

The poll of 175 UK vets and 1,000 cat owners was conducted by Iams Pro-Active Nutrition in conjunction with the new 4:1 campaign which advises Brits on a budget to switch from wet cat food to dry.

It revealed that 36 per cent of the cats vets treat suffer from illnesses caused by poor diets.

And 20 per cent of a vet's time in surgery is spent treating cats with diet-related conditions.

Vicky Halls, leading cat behaviour counsellor, said: "With the credit crunch in full swing it's understandable that families are tightening their belts and prioritising on the essentials.

"However, owners need to think twice before cutting corners on pet food, as in the long run this will only lead to more outgoings with expensive vet bills when cats get sick from a poor diet."

A third of cat owners regularly feed their puss bacon, whilst 23 per cent think nothing of filling the cat bowl with sausages.

A fifth of cats often tuck into the remains of a Sunday roast, whilst 20 per cent nosh on beef steak.

Astonishing, 11 per cent of cats start the day with cereal for breakfast, and one in 10 follow this up with tea and biscuits mid morning.

Other delicacies enjoyed by our feline friends include leftovers from Chinese and Indian takeaways, crisps, chips and chocolate.

Vicky Halls continues: "By shopping savvy, the family cat needn't be a casualty of the credit crunch.

"The first step for cat owners is to read the label to know the true value of their purchase.

"Iams Pro-Active Nutrition is nutritionally a high quality food you can feed your pet to help keep them happy and healthy, plus gram for gram will go further than any wet food."

Half of the vets polled claim there has been a significant rise in the number of nutritionally related health problems in cats over the last 12 months - and these problems can cost up to £200 to treat.

And 37 per cent of vets say this increase is solely down to the fact cats are consuming too much human food.

Currently the biggest health threat to UK cats is obesity, followed by dental problems, worms and malnourishment.

1. Bacon
2. Sausages
3. Sunday roast
4. Cereal
5. Toast
6. Biscuits
7. Eggs
8. Roast potatoes
9. Crisps
10. Chinese / Indian takeaway

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