Half of all housecats are too chunky! That’s according to a new study from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. And although the extra weight may mean extra fluff and cuteness, it also means extra health problems, like joint disease, which can impair a cats’ quality of life.

The experts say we’re raising a generation of “couch potato cats.” They eat more, play less – and, as a result, over 50% of cats are overweight. It’s why the number of feline diabetes cases has gone up 500% in the last 30 years. And just like people, cats will overeat if they’re offered too much tasty food.

Plus, many cats are now housebound – maybe because they live in an apartment, or because they’re indoor cats. So they don’t have much else to do all day except eat, sleep – and gain weight. Not only that, but owners are feeding cats things like bacon and ice cream from their own plates.

Dr. Bonnie Beaver is the executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. And she says cats learn to be affectionate in order to get fed. So she recommends getting your cat new toys and playing with them more often… and not rewarding cats, or showing them love, with food. And if you want to give your cats a treat, give them a tiny piece of boiled chicken.

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