The number of American fat cats has really ballooned in recent years. No, we're not talking about a rise in the number of wealthy people. The American Association of Obesity reports that more than 40 percent of American pets are obese or overweight.
Not only does that lead to more insurance claims for pet obesity-related illnesses, but it turns out it may say a lot about how fat we all are.
Pets that are 10 percent to 15 percent above the ideal body weight for their specific breed are considered obese, which leads to disease and insurance claims just like in humans, according to actuarial data released by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI), the nation's oldest and largest health insurance provider for pets.
Pet owners -- that would be us -- are partly to blame for their pets turning into little porkers, the group said.
"Causes of pet obesity include lack of exercise, improper pet food, overfeeding and age," VPI said, which well glory be are the same reasons you, me and we are perhaps carrying around a little too much and looking a few diseases in the eye.
If you lie around the house all day eating Cheetos and using the clicker, there's a good chance your pet will follow your lead -- maybe not the clicker part but the lying around and snacking part. Like they say, monkey see, monkey do. And if you aren't motivated to take them out for a walk or a run around the yard, they can't do it on their own.
"Diet and portion size should be chosen with the help of your veterinarian based upon the age and activity level of your pet," said Aine McCarthy, director of veterinary marketing for VPI. "Try to avoid rewarding or enticing your pet with too many treats -- a common source of excess calories.Â Look for healthy pet snacks or low-caloric treats available at veterinary offices or pet stores."
If your cat is fat -- or your dog, bird or rabbit -- take that as a clue to check out your own middle.