Tackling pet obesity requires little more than cutting down on portion sizes and resisting the temptation to give your four-legged friend the odd treat or two, right?

Not really, says one expert, who is of the opinion that too many cat owners, for example, see their pets as 'little dogs' and feed them accordingly.

According to pet 'agony aunt' Dr Julianne Miller, far from being small canines, cats "have very different metabolic requirements when it comes to their nutrition", and this needs to be remembered every time you think about reaching for that tin of treats.

Writing her advice column in the Arizona Daily Sun, the domestic animal specialist explains that owners need only look at feral cats to get a good idea of what they should be feeding their pets.

"There is a lot of protein and very little carbohydrate in this diet," she says, noting that it's almost inevitable that a cat fed entirely on dry food and not needing to hunt for itself will pile on the weight.

What's needed, then, is a shift away from cheap, processed carbohydrate-heavy food and towards a diet that's rich in protein, with top-end cat food such as Iams helping to keep your cat happy without affecting its health.

"This diet will keep your cat healthier for longer, and weight loss will decrease the possibility of obesity-related illnesses," Dr Miller concludes.

This latest advice on pet obesity comes as animal welfare experts in Canada are calling on cat-lovers to consider the plight of black cats this Halloween.

According to the Huffington Post, while in the past, animal charities may have been wary of re-homing black cats at this time of year for fear that they would just be used as a costume accessory and then abandoned once again, now they using the seasonal attention dark-coloured cats get to help find unwanted animals new owners.

"We are able to use this Halloween season to talk about the issue facing black cats and black dogs in shelters," one charity worker told the online news site.

"That’s something we’d like to raise awareness of."

Written by: Hannah