Obesity is a common problem in companion animals. A recent UK study estimated that 48% of cats were overweight or obese. This study was undertaken to evaluate the prevalence and risk factors for overweight body condition and obesity in cats and assess the ability of owners to rate feline body shape in a practice in Glasgow. The closed-question survey was conducted over a 3-week period using cats older than 1 year of age. Most cats were fed some moist food, and greater than half the cats were fed ad libitum. A veterinary student conducted all body condition scoring (BCS) on a 5-point scale using both visual and palpation methods. The prevalence of overweight or obese cats was 39%. Owners were asked to choose the best word description for their cats: far too thin, a bit thin, just right, a bit overweight, or very overweight. Although there was moderate to high agreement between owner and veterinary BCS assessment, underestimation of feline body shape was most common in overweight cats. Risk factors identified for overweight body condition or obesity were frequency of feeding and neutered status. This study highlights the need for owner education in the management of feline obesity.

Commentary: He’s not fat, he’s fluffy! As this survey indicated, pet owners are often the last to recognize that their pets may be obese. Identifying of methods to encourage appropriate feeding protocols is continually challenging but is the key to obesity prevention.—Patricia Thomblison, DVM, MS

Prevalence and risk factors for feline obesity in a first opinion practice in Glasgow, Scotland. Courcier EA, O’Higgins R, Mellor DJ, Yam PS. J FEL MED SURG 12:746-753, 2010.