Most moggies enjoy spending time outdoors climbing trees, patrolling the garden and exploring their surroundings, as by nature cats are active, inquisitive animals.

However, if your four-legged friend would rather laze on the sofa or has a tendency to over-indulge in cat food and is consequently carrying a few extra pounds, you may need to get a little creative to encourage your pet to exercise.

In general it's much harder to increase physical activity for a cat than a pet such as a dog that you can pop on a lead and take out for a walk, but there are a few steps you can take to get your feline friend moving.

Veterinary journalist Pete Wedderburn recommends that owners try moving their pet's litter box upstairs and feeding them downstairs to gently encourage your cat to exercise around the house at least.

"It's quite difficult to climb a hill compared with walking on flat ground, and it's the same with pets," he says. "So you should get them to move up and down by moving things upstairs or even having high up perches in the house or a high up bed."

When outdoors cats will negotiate high obstacles such as fences, walls and trees through jumping, climbing and pouncing which helps to keep them trim, so it can be a good idea to emulate this environment in the home.

"Cats live in a three-dimensional world - they like to be at a height," Pete adds. "You can buy what they call cat gymnasiums, which include a bed on a post as part of them. They like being perched high up, and getting up there is hard for them as well."

The other factor to consider when dealing with an overweight pet is diet. Certain brands such as Royal Canin cat food provide products designed for special dietary needs and can help pets shed excess weight, so carefully consider what and how much your cat is eating and if necessary switch them onto a more suitable food.

Written by: Hannah