Dieting cats found to be more affectionate

Helena Horton

fat catOverly well-fed cats are often depicted as affectionate, purring, contented creatures. However, a recent study conclud­ed that overweight cats who were put on diets were more affection­ate to their owners. The research found that tough love works, even though it meant putting up with up to four weeks of non-stop begging for food. Researchers from Cornell Uni­versity's College of Veterinary Sci­ences in New York State found that at the end of an eight-week diet cats not only lost some weight, but also showed more affection to their owner.

Cats are often overweight because they are frequently kept indoors or fed so many tidbits by their loving owners. Diets tend to fail, because mew­ing cats are very good at nagging. The researchers tested 58 obese cats on one of three eight-week diets —a high-fibre regime, a low-carbo­hydrate and high-protein one and a general "controlled" diet formulat­ed specifically to reduce weight.

At four weeks the cats were mon­itored for behaviour changes and they were all seen to beg their own­ers for food, meow constantly, fol­low their owner round and pace the floor more. After eight weeks, only 76 per cent of the cats had lost weight and those on the high-fibre diet were more successful than the others.

But almost all the cats began to show increased signs of affection such as jumping into laps, said lead researcher Emily Levine. The study, published in the Jour­nal of Veterinary Behaviour, said: "Most of us are guilty of overin­dulging our much-loved pets. "Your fat cat will like you more for a little tough love."


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