How do I look? A reformed Sunderland fat cat has become the feline king of the slimmers

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FORMER fat cat Billie has become the biggest loser of the feline world after shedding almost a quarter of his body weight.

Back in March, the 12-year-old black-and-white moggy weighed in at one stone and five pounds – meaning he was 93 per cent overweight.

Now Billie has shed four-and-a-half pounds, dropping down to just over a stone, by taking part in the PDSA Pet Fit Club challenge.

Owner Vilma, from Eden Vale, said: “Billie is a lot more active since he’s lost weight, he’s so much more playful and loves to chase his ball. It’s almost like he’s a kitten again, and in fact he loves to play with his new toy kitten.

“He also comes on evening walks with us, following us with our neighbour’s two kittens, and the increased activity has really helped his weight loss.

“He doesn’t beg for food anymore either, so it’s much easier for us to stick to his diet. We’ll be carrying on until he gets to his ideal weight* as well.

“PDSA Pet Fit Club has been a really positive experience. So many pets are overweight these days, it’s been a great opportunity for us to help Billie, as well as raise awareness of the problem.”

Vilma adopted Billie and his housemate Bobby, who sadly passed away earlier this year, four years ago.

She said Billie always had a bigger appetite, and used to devour his own meals plus extra portions from Bobby’s bowl.

Struggling to battle Billie’s bulge, Vilma turned to PDSA for help – and entered him in the competition.

The programme saw Billie compete against dogs, cats, and a rabbit, from across the UK, taking the title “top cat slimmer in the country”.

Lianne O’Brien, senior vet at Sunderland PDSA PetAid hospital, said: “This is a great success story for all concerned, and Vilma has clearly done a wonderful job in managing Billie’s food intake and safely increasing his activity levels. Weight loss in cats must be carefully managed, as losing weight too quickly can be quite dangerous for them.

“As for Billie, he is undoubtedly much fitter and happier, and has a greater life expectancy than when he was overweight. It just goes to show that it is never too late to improve a pet’s diet and lifestyle. I would encourage anyone with concerns about their pet’s weight to speak to their vet. They are there to help you, and can provide plenty of advice on target weights, how much food to give and suitable exercise.”

Vilma added: “My advice to other owners is to cut out the treats. I thought it was unavoidable before, and that it would be unkind not to give them. But the calories really add up, and I’ve realised that it’s actually very easy to stop giving them – Billie doesn’t miss the treats at all, in fact he prefers the attention I give him instead, and I know it’s best for him in the long run.”

•Pet owners and supporters can see all of this year’s finalists’ results and also register their interest to take part in the next competition at www.pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub.

Pet obesity revealed:

•More than a third of all dogs (35per cent or 2.9million) in the UK are now overweight or obese.*

•Cats don’t fare much better, with PDSA data showing that around one in four are overweight (approximately 3 million).

•Rabbits have the worst diets compared to dogs and cats with 42per cent being fed too little hay every day, and 49per cent being fed rabbit muesli (a mix of seeds and flakes) which should not be fed as it can lead to obesity and dental problems.*

•Overweight pets are at risk of serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis, and have a lower life expectancy than healthy pets.

•Over-feeding treats and providing an incorrect diet are the primary causes of pet obesity, with 90% of dog owners admitting to feeding treats such as cheese, crisps, cakes, biscuits, toast and takeaways.