Cats getting fatter: Study

Are cats getting fatter? Until now, pet owners and veterinarians didn’t know for sure.

Now researchers at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) have discovered most cats continue to put on weight as they age, and their average weight is on the rise. Their findings were published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

“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,” says Prof. Theresa Bernardo, Department of Population Medicine.

“Establishing the pattern of cat weights over their lifetimes provides us with important clues about their health.”

Lead author Adam Campigotto, along with Bernardo and population medicine professor Zvonimir Poljak, analyzed 54 million weight measurements taken at veterinarians’ offices on 19 million cats. The research team broke down the data to account for gender, neutering status and breed.

They found male cats tended to reach higher weight peaks than females, and 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.

“We do have concerns with obesity in middle age, because we know that can lead to diseases for cats,” says Campigotto, a U of G DVM grad.