Management of obesity in cats
Kirsten M Hoelmkjaer, Charlotte R Bjornvad
Department of Veterinary Clinical and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Abstract: Obesity is a common nutritional disorder in cats, especially when they are neutered and middle-aged. Obesity predisposes cats to several metabolic and clinical disorders, including insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, lameness, and skin disease. Prevention and treatment of obesity is therefore of great importance in veterinary practice. Correct assessment of body composition is important for recognizing early states of obesity and for monitoring success of weight-loss programs. Various methods for assessing body composition have been proposed, of which a 9-point body-condition score has been validated in cats, and is possibly the most simple to use in the clinic; however, for extremely obese individuals, it is less useful. When calculating the appropriate daily caloric intake for a weight-loss plan, the aim is to maintain a safe weight-loss rate, increasing the chance of preserving lean body mass and decreasing the risk of developing hepatic lipidosis, while also producing a sufficient weight-loss rate to keep owners motivated. A weight-loss rate of 0.5%–2% per week is recommended, which for a cat that needs to lose 3 kg body weight results in an anticipated time for reaching the target weight of 24–60 weeks. There are several purpose-made weight-loss diets available. The optimal composition of a weight-loss diet for cats is unknown, but most of the available products have lower caloric density, an increased nutrient:energy ratio, and higher protein and fiber content. Regular follow-up visits allow the caloric intake to be adjusted based on progress, and possibly increase the chance of success. This review discusses the risk factors for and consequences of obesity, and gives directions for formulating a weight-loss plan, including daily caloric intake, choice of diet, and common problems based on the current literature. This review further provides a nutritional comparison of the current composition of selected commercial veterinary-specific weight-loss diets.
Keywords: body condition, glucose intolerance, veterinary weight-loss diets, weight-loss management
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