Overly well-fed cats are often depicted as affectionate, purring, content creatures. However, a study has concluded that overweight cats who lose a few pounds are more affectionate to their owners.

The research found that tough love works, even though it meant putting up with up to four weeks of non-stop begging for food.

Researchers from Cornell University's College of Veterinary Sciences in New York state found that at the end of an eight-week diet cats not only lost some weight, but also showed more affection to their owner.

Cats are often overweight because they are frequently kept indoors, or fed too many titbits by their loving owners. Diets tend to fail, because mewing cats are very good at nagging their human owners.

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The researchers tested 58 obese cats on one of three different eight-week diets. Only 76 per cent of the cats had lost weight. But almost all the cats began to show increased signs of affection such as purring and jumping into laps, said lead researcher Emily Levine. The study is published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour.