Page last updated at 14:37 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 15:37 UK

Overweight cat in diet contest

Socrates the cat
Socrates weighs more than double his ideal body weight

A Tyneside cat, whose favourite snack was cheese and onion crisps, has been chosen to take part in a national fat-fighting competition for pets.

Socrates, from North Shields, is one of nine finalists in veterinary charity PDSA's Pet Fit Club contest.

The five-year-old cat weighs in at 10.1kg (23.15lb), making him more than double his ideal body weight.

He is the largest feline contestant to ever take part in the charity's competition.

The Pet Fit Club is a 100-day diet and fitness plan. It is hoped Socrates will weigh 4.5kg (9.92lb) by its completion.

Socrates, also known as Socs, was nominated for the contest by his owner Bill Duncan, 52, who has cared for him since he was a kitten.

Weight problem

Mr Duncan said: "Socs loves his food and knows when it's dinner time. He wakes me up for his breakfast every morning and comes to find me at 5pm on the dot every evening for his tea.

"He used to beg for scraps and he especially loved cheese and onion crisps. I am determined to slim him down."

Mr Duncan said he did not realise how bad his cat's weight had got until PDSA vets highlighted the problem.

He said: "Socs has always been very laid back. Like a lot of cats he will have his mad half-hour where he will tear around the house for no apparent reason, so he can move when he wants too."

Likening his pet to the cartoon cat Garfield, Mr Duncan said: "There is nothing he would rather do than eat or lie around on his back all day."

PDSA has seen an increase of more than 10% in the levels of obesity in dogs in the last six years, and an increase of 5% in cats in the last three years.

Latest figures suggest that one in four cats are overweight.

The winner of PDSA Pet Fit Club will receive a four-night pet-friendly holiday in north Devon.

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