It seems that just like us humans, cats have their weight issues. Following on from our recent survey into pet weight management, researchers at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College have discovered that even after cats mature from the kitten phase their weight continues to creep up until they are, on average, eight years old. What’s more, this can significantly impact on their health and wellbeing.
This study is significant because the Ontario Veterinary College’s researchers have become the first to access data on more than 19 million cats, allowing them to get a picture of typical weight gain and loss over their lifetimes.
Commenting on the findings, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Prof Theresa Bernardo says: “As humans, we know we need to strive to maintain a healthy weight, but for cats, there has not been a clear definition of what that is. We simply didn’t have the data. Establishing the pattern of cat weights over their lifetimes provides us with important clues about their health.”
DID YOU KNOW?
According to feline charity International Cat Care, it’s estimated that between 39% and 52% of cats in the UK are overweight or obese.
Burgess in-house vet Dr Suzanne Moyes advises: “Too many calories and too little exercise causes obesity. This can lead to all manner of health and wellbeing issues including osteoarthritis, diabetes, cardiac disease and cancer – along with the inability to exhibit natural behaviours. Without regular monitoring, a cat’s weight can gradually creep up – and it can be hard for them to lose it. For very overweight cats, it will require a vet-devised weight loss programme, which may take up to a year before the cat reaches their ideal body condition.”
The survey findings included:
- Male cats tended to reach higher weight peaks than females
- Spayed or neutered cats tended to be heavier than unaltered cats
- Among the four most common purebred breeds (Siamese, Persian, Himalayan and Maine Coon), the mean weight peaked between six and 10 years of age
- Among common domestic cats, it peaked at eight years
Prof Bernardo adds that, just as humans need to be aware of maintaining a healthy weight as they age, it’s important to monitor weight changes in cats: “Cats tend to be overlooked because they hide their health problems and they don’t see a vet as often as dogs do. So, one of our goals is to understand this so that we can see if there are interventions that can provide more years of healthy life to cats.”
For owners concerned about their cat’s health or weight gain, lead author, Dr Adam Campigotto, advises buying a weighing scale and getting into the habit of regularly weighing your pet: “If your cat is gaining or losing weight, it may be an indicator of an underlying problem.”
HOW DOES YOUR CAT MEASURE UP?
International Cat Care has a Body and Muscle Condition Chart that you can use to help identify if your cat is very thin, thin, normal, overweight or obese.
Get in the know about nutrition after neutering
Neutering is recommended by feline experts for both female and male cats. Find out more about the benefits of neutering here. However, neutering does mean a cat’s needs can change. As his or her body has less work to do, your feline friend will require fewer calories or they will put on weight. That’s why it’s a good idea to switch to a diet specially created for neutered cats to prevent them from becoming overweight and to help with other changes.
- 48 hours after neutering cats need an estimated 20% fewer calories
- Neutered cats are more prone to weight gain
- They’re more likely to have urinary tract infections
- It increases the likelihood of hairballs
To help address the issues associated with neutering, Burgess has undertaken detailed nutrition research and has recently launched Burgess Neutered Cat food – which has recently won GOLD at the PetQuip awards 2019 for the best Pet Product of the Year in Foods/Treats/Health cat category. This advanced, high protein recipe is suitable to feed from the age when a cat is neutered and contains:
- L-carnitine, a naturally occurring amino acid derivative involved in metabolism, for maintaining a healthy weight
- Controlled levels of minerals and cranberry to help support urinary tract health
- Yucca extract for stool formation and reduced odour in the litter tray
- Fibres to help prevent hairballs
Dr Burgess adds: “At Burgess, we believe this new recipe containing a whole host of beneficial ingredients – including L-carnitine to promote the use of fat stores for energy and to help preserve muscle mass – will help support the health and wellbeing of neutered cats of all ages and help owners ensure their pets maintain the correct weight.”
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