America has a fat cat epidemic.

And it’s not just the especially “chonky” 26-pound big boy BeeJay, who made headlines when he went up for adoption at a Philadelphia shelter, or New York’s own 40-pound Barsik, who’s so fat he needs a stroller to get around. More than 50 percent of the nation’s kitties are overweight or obese, according to a new study from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

The extra weight may mean extra fluff and cuteness, but it also means additional health problems, which can impair a chubby puss’ quality of life, researchers say.

“Just like in humans, there are complications associated with obesity, such as joint disease,” says veterinary school nutrition assistant professor Dr. Megan Shepherd in a statement.

The yearlong study — which, full disclosure, was sponsored by pet-food brand Purina — enrolled 44 chunky felines and gave them each personalized weight-loss plans to see what works best to help kitties lose weight.

“We hear all the time that feline owners want their cats to lose weight because they understand how important it is to keep their cat an ideal body weight,” says clinical nutrition resident Dr. Lauren Dodd.


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