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30-10-2012 | Veterinary medicine | Article

Weight-management advice needed with cat neutering


Free abstract

medwireNews: Neutered status is one of the most significant factors for obesity in vet-visiting cats in the UK, report researchers, who suggest that weight-management measures should be targeted at owners when their pets are neutered.

Male gender and being in either the prime or mature lifestages (aged 3-10 years) were also risk factors for obesity among cats in the UK, show the study results.

"Preventing obesity in neutered cats could bring the greatest reduction in prevalence," say Emily Courcier, from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK and colleagues. "Given the accepted benefits of neutering, targeting obesity-prevention measures at owners at the time of neutering may be prudent in obesity reduction," they write in Veterinary Record.

Using data from 47 veterinary practices in the UK, the team investigated the rate of overweight and obesity among cats throughout 2008 and 2010, where overweight/obese was defined as a body condition score (BCS) of 4 or 5, and nonoverweight as a BCS of 1-3.

"Companion animals are defined as being overweight at between 10% and 19% over ideal body weight, and become obese when an animal is 20% or more above optimal body weight," explain Courcier et al.

The majority of animals were in the junior lifestage (0-2 years), while 14.9% and 12.7% were in the prime and mature lifestage, respectively. The other animals were in the senior or geriatric lifestages. BCS was available for a total of 3219 cats, of which 11.5% were overweight or obese, report the authors.

They found no difference in overweight or obesity according to breed; however, male cats were 1.3 times as likely to be overweight or obese as females. In addition, cats aged between 7 and 10 years were most likely to be overweight or obese, with a peak in probability at 7 years, note the researchers.

Overall, 67% of cats were neutered, 34.9% of males (n=1116) and 32% of females (n=1023), and neutered animals were a significant 3.55 times more likely to be overweight or obese than their non-neutered counterparts.

The association between neutering and overweight/obesity held true for both genders, with neutered males and females a respective 4.8 and 3.1 times as likely to be overweight or obese as their non-neutered counterparts.

Courcier and co-investigators warn that the findings should be interpreted with caution due to biases introduced by including only vet-visiting animals in the study.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Sarah Guy, medwireNews Reporter