What actions can veterinary professionals take to reduce the risk of obesity and Diabetes in cats?

Answer:

  • Make specific nutritional recommendations early in a cat’s life and discuss with owners the risks associated with obesity.1
  • Recommend diets based on clinical studies that have been shown to maintain long-term health in cats.2
  • Expand pet owners’ knowledge on proper pet nutrition to shift the narrow focus off carbohydrates in dry food.2
  • Feed cats for their ideal body condition and discuss with owners meal feeding versus free-choice feeding.3
  • Remind owners that after spaying or neutering their cat, adjustments in diet type, amount fed, or both may be required.4-7
  • Explain to pet owners that obesity is not merely a cosmetic issue. Research shows that increased body fat is linked with the making of inflammatory mediators that likely is a factor in the pathogenesis of many diseases, such as DM.
  • Educate owners on creating an enriched indoor environment to promote exercise, mental stimulation, and enjoyment for their cats.8
  • Implementing actions like these mentioned may help reduce the risk of obesity, DM, and other chronic disorders in cats.2
The Science Behind our Recommendations
1. AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. https://www.aahanet.org/Library/NutritionalAsmt.aspx. Accessed June 10, 2013. 2. Buffington C. Dry foods and risk of disease in cats. Can Vet J. 2008; 49:561-563. 3. Gross KL, Becvarova I, Armstrong PJ, Debraekeleer J. Feeding Young Adult Cats: Before Middle Age. In: Hand MS, Thatcher CD, Remillard RL, Roudebush P, Novotny BJ, eds. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition 5th ed. Topeka, KS: Mark Morris Institute; 2010:385. 4. Root MV, Johnston SD, Olson PN. Effect of prepuberal and postpuberal gonadectomy on heat production measured by indirect calorimetry in male and female domestic cats. Am J Vet Res. 1996 Mar; 57(3):371-4. 5. Kanchuk ML, Backus RC, Calvert CC, Morris JG, Rogers QR. Weight gain in gonadectomized normal and lipoprotein lipase-deficient male domestic cats results from increased food intake and not decreased energy expenditure. J Nutr. 2003 Jun;133(6):1866-74. 6. Martin L, Siliart B, Dumon H, Backus R, Biourge V, Nguyen P. Leptin, body fat content and energy expenditure in intact and gonadectomized adult cats: a preliminary study. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2001 Aug; 85(7-8):195-9. 7. Harper EJ, Stack DM, Watson TD, Moxham G. Effects of feeding regimens on bodyweight, composition and condition score in cats following ovariohysterectomy. J Small Anim Pract. 2001 Sep; 42(9):433-8. 8. The Indoor Pet Initiative Environmental Enrichment. The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine Web site. http://indoorpet.osu.edu/veterinarians/research/index.cfm. Accessed June 10, 2013.