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Published: Jul 26, 2012

Pets play an increasingly important role in the lives of American families, but their health is not following the same upward trend. In fact, America's pet health is actually on the decline, The Chicago Tribune reports.

"The health of America's pets is deteriorating; pets are getting sicker than they need to," Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, medical director for Banfield Pet Hospital, told the news outlet.

The Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health 2012 Report shows several worrisome trends in particular. One is pet obesity, something Klausner calls "an epidemic," and the other is a lack of veterinary visits for cats.

Banfield's statistics show that the number of overweight or obese cats has increased by 90 percent in the past five years, and Klausner told the news source this is likely because owners are not aware that their pet is overweight. Weight reduction in cats and dogs is important to prevent related issues like arthritis and diabetes. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, as few as two pounds above a cat's ideal body weight can put him at risk of serious medical conditions.

Cats represent less than a quarter of visits to the veterinarian, despite the fact that there are about 20 percent more pet cats than dogs in the U.S., according to the report. Bringing cats to veterinary hospitals is crucial for routine care like cat vaccinations, but are also vital for catching diseases early.