Although most pet owners will hate to admit it, many domestic cats nowadays are carrying a little more weight than is healthy for their size and lifestyle.

But with feline obesity proving to be an increasing problem in the UK, it's important that cat owners act now if they feel that their pet is overweight and take steps to help them slim down.

"There are three key elements in helping your cat slim down," says Michelle Warfle, cat manager at Best Friends Animal Society ( "Stop free feeding, closely monitor the amount of treats you are feeding, and get your cat more active."

However, before you start your moggie on a feline weight watchers plan, it's a good idea to speak to your vet to gain some advice on the safest and most effective way to go about a weight loss regime.

"Remember, if a cat loses too much weight too quickly then significant liver damage can result," Michelle adds. "Always consult with your veterinarian before starting any weight lose programme."

Sometimes vets will suggest switching your pet to a prescription diet to help shed the excess pounds and help get them into shape. However, a number of brands such as Hills cat food offer affordable alternatives that aid weight loss, but often come with a lower price tag.

And finally, make sure you completely cut out feeding your feline friend from the dinner table and treating them to tasty morsels on a regular basis, as treats are often a major contributor to weight gain.

"When you are determining your cat's caloric intake, don't forget to include the treats - they have calories too," Michelle says.

"And remember, treats don’t equate to love. It will mean more to your cat to have some extra time with you than a few treats."

Written by: Hannah