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Heavyweight Fifi bids for pet title

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Morbidly obese Fifi Bottomley is among the finalists in this year's Pet Fit Club

Morbidly obese Fifi Bottomley is among the finalists in this year's Pet Fit Club

Morbidly obese Fifi Bottomley is among the finalists in this year's Pet Fit Club

Always on a diet, prone to catfights and with a name like Fifi Bottomley, you would be forgiven for thinking that this high-profile dieter made her name on The Only Way Is Essex.

In fact, Fifi, eight, is a morbidly obese moggy battling to lose the pounds in a competition run by an animal charity.

The Bradford-based cat weighs 9.3 kilogrammes - more than twice her ideal body weight - but has managed to cheat diet plans for years by stealing food from other cats and charming neighbours into feeding her.

She faces heavy competition from a roast dinner-loving Labrador from Tamworth, Staffordshire, who was too heavy to have an X-ray, a border collie from the Wirral whose excess pounds exacerbate his arthritis and a Wakefield rabbit named Samantha who weighs more than an average cat.

The flabby felines and portly puppies are among the finalists in this year's Pet Fit Club, a competition run by animal charity PDSA. Specialist vets will be guiding the owners of each of these supersized pets on their journey to good health by providing a balanced diet and tailored exercise plan.

The competition will run for six months with the winner announced in September. The winning owner will receive a year's worth of free pet food for their animal and a pet-friendly holiday worth £500 with the Four Seasons hotel in Perthshire.

The contestants - 11 dogs, five cats and two rabbits - are carrying a combined excess weight of more than 24 stone, the equivalent of 380 tins of dog food, 35 average-sized cats or 50 Yorkshire Terriers.

Sean Wensley, PDSA senior veterinary surgeon, said: "Excess pounds can contribute to a number of serious health conditions and, sadly, it does reduce life expectancy. But the good news is that it's never too late to make positive changes to a pet's diet and lifestyle."

The PDSA believes that there are around 2.9 million dogs and three million cats in the UK losing the battle of the bulge.

However, 84% of owners are content that their pets are in perfect physical condition, while 90% admit to feeding their charges with cheese, crisps, cakes, biscuits, toast and takeaways.

PA Media