ONE overweight cat is facing the Christmas and New Year with a double challenge - to beat the bulge and find a new home.

Sophie was handed into Cats Protection's Warrington Adoption Centre early November after her previous owner sadly passed away.

While in good condition, staff say the portly cat weighs 6kg whereas female cats like her should weigh between 3.5kg to 4kg.

She is currently on a strict diet to help get in shape while she waits to find a new owner who will need to continue to monitor her calorie intake.

Sonia Sowcroft, North West Adoption Centre manager, said: “Sophie is a really lovely cat - friendly, playful and a lot of fun. She is rather tubby and certainly need to shift a few pounds.

“However, their new owner will need to be firm and make sure she is not being overfed.

"Overweight cats are at a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes or arthritis and as it is impossible to make a cat exercise the key to keeping them in shape is to monitor how much they eat.”

Sonia added that this time of year was a great time for all Cheshire cat owners to consider whether their own pet could do with shedding a few pounds.

A Cats Protection survey of 1,120 cat owners conducted Christmas 2013 revealed that around a quarter of Britain’s cats (23 per cent) were regarded by their owners to be overweight, yet continued to be fed too many treats.

Around 70 per cent of cats that were slightly or very overweight were also given a special food treat at least once a week by their doting owners.

Cats Protection’s top tips for helping cats to eat well are:

• Stick to a reputable pet food which includes everything cats need to stay healthy

• When feeding your cat, stick to the manufacturer’s recommended feeding amount

• Avoid giving your cat fatty foods such as cheese, chocolate, crisps and other ‘human’ food

• If you want to offer your cat a special treat, give him a little boiled fish or boneless chicken

To find out more about adopting Sophie please contact Cats Protection's Warrington Adoption Centre on 03000 12 06 12.