Do cats need sugar tax? Fat felines on the rise as furry friends not getting enough exercise

  • Over two fifths (42 per cent) of the nation’s cats are overweight
  • Half (50 per cent) of vets say the rise in ‘house cats’ is leading to the rise in obesity
  • Diabetes is most the common illness among obese cats, caused by overfeeding
  • A quarter (26 per cent) of vets said more than half the cats they treat are overweight
  • Watch Direct Line’s fat cat video here:

Direct Line Pet Insurance1 can reveal millions of cats are at risk of life threatening illnesses as a result of being overfed and not doing enough physical activity. Over two fifths (42 per cent) of the nation’s cats are overweight. Direct Line Pet Insurance is urging responsible pet ownership as more than a quarter (26 per cent) of vets surveyed said that more than half of the cats they treat are now overweight.

Every other vet questioned (50 per cent) believes that the rise in so called ‘house cats’ who remain permanently indoors, have made a significant contribution to the surge in overweight cats.

A fifth of vets also highlighted stress and behavioural issues (20 per cent) as a condition more likely to be found in cats that refrain from going outdoors. This is expressed through anxiety‐related problems such as urine marking or excessive scratching of furniture.

Diabetes is the most common obesity‐related illness in cats (87 per cent) with overfeeding (91 per cent) being the leading cause. Arthritis (36 per cent), urinary problems (18 per cent), joint issues (14 per cent) and heart disease (10 per cent) are other serious health concerns reported by vets as a result of cats being overweight.

Five most common obesity related illnesses given by vets

Rank Behaviours Percentage
1 Diabetes 87%
2 Arthritis 36%
3 Urinary problems (includes cystitis, bladder problems and urinary problems) 18%
4 Joint problems (includes joint inflammation) 14%
5 Heart disease 10%

Source: Direct Line Pet Insurance 2016

Prit Powar, head of Pet Insurance at Direct Line said: “Overweight cats are becoming more of an issue. The percentage of obese cats that vets are now seeing is extremely alarming and results in long term illnesses for those cats. Fortunately, there’s a simple fix. Owners really need to focus on controlling food portions and encouraging their pet to exercise, indoors or outdoors. Doing this effectively will help reduce the risk of serious health problems. Veterinary bills can often be costly and many of these illnesses will require multiple trips to the vet and on-going prescriptions.”

Do you have an embarrassing moggie or cat that’s too fat?
At Direct Line we’re on a quest to fix the nation’s pesky pets…. while laughing at their cheeky antics of course. So, share a picture or a video of your cat getting up to no good and we’ll add it to our gallery.
Cat owners can enter our competition to be in with a chance of winning weekly vouchers

Watch Direct Line’s fat cat video here

Notes to editors

1 Research carried out amongst 100 UK veterinary practitioners between 23 February‐13 April 2016

Terms and conditions of the competition

UK 18+
To Enter: Visit, and upload a funny or embarrassing picture or video of your cat to be entered into the Promotion
Prizes: 5 winners a week will win 1x £50 Zooplus voucher
For full T&Cs, see
Promoter: U K Insurance Limited trading as Direct Line Insurance.

For further information, please contact:

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on‐line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting

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