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New publication: Identifying the target population and preventative strategies to combat feline obesity

We are excited to announce a new publication! Hannah Godfrey, Shawna Morrow, and colleagues recently published their new article “Identifying the target population and preventative strategies to combat feline obesity” in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

Purpose of Review

An alarming number of pet cats are considered to be overweight or obese. Obesity, which is defined as an excessive amount of fat tissue that can lead to health complications, is the most common nutritional disorder affecting pet cats. Although obesity is treatable, the treatment and management of obesity in cats can be challenging and is often unsuccessful. Therefore, this literature review discusses preventing obesity in pet cats, including preventative strategies for owners and effective communication methods for veterinary professionals.

Summary of Findings

Our research emphasizes prevention as an effective approach. We propose that post-gonadectomy kittens aged 5–12 months represent a critical target population for obesity prevention. Gonadectomy (spaying or neutering) is a common procedure in domestic cats, and it significantly impacts their metabolism and body composition. By focusing on this specific age group, we can intervene early and mitigate the risk of obesity altogether.

Further to this finding, we also highlight the importance of the roles of both the pet owner and the veterinary team in preventing obesity for pet cats.

Figure from Godfrey et al. (2024) identifying the risk for obesity in kittens at each growth stage.

Key Take-Aways

Dietary and Feeding Management Strategies:

To prevent obesity for your pet cat, the following strategies can be useful:

  1. Controlled Caloric Intake: Monitor the daily caloric intake of kittens, especially after a spay or neuter surgery. Portions should be adjusted based on their age, weight, and activity level. Regular weigh-ins and discussions with the veterinary team are essential for this step!
  2. Choosing the Right Cat Food: Cat owners and veterinary teams should look for life-stage appropriate food (i.e. for kittens, look for foods labeled for growth or all life stages). Dietary protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fibre are important nutrients to consider.
  3. Interactive Feeding: Use puzzle feeders or food-dispensing toys. These engage cats mentally and physically!
  4. Avoid Free Feeding: Refrain from leaving food out all day. Scheduled and portioned meals should be recommended.
  5. Regular Exercise: Encourage playtime and physical activity. Cats love chasing toys, laser pointers, and feather wands. Engage them in interactive play sessions.

The Role of Veterinary Communication:

Effective communication between veterinarians and pet owners is crucial for obesity prevention. Veterinarians should:

  • Educate: Discuss the importance of weight management and obesity prevention during routine visits. Explain the risks of obesity and the benefits of preventive measures.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Collaborate with pet owners to establish achievable weight goals for their cats.
  • Monitor Progress: Regular follow-up appointments allow adjustments to feeding plans and exercise routines.
  • Address Barriers: Understand pet owners’ challenges (e.g., time constraints, lifestyle) and tailor recommendations accordingly.
  • Empower Pet Owners: Provide practical tips for successful weight management at home.

Future Directions

While the main focus of this review is on post-gonadectomy kittens, future research should explore obesity prevention strategies for all life stages. Investigating the impact of early dietary interventions, long-term follow-up studies, and community-based educational programs would be beneficial. Collaboration between veterinarians, pet owners, and researchers is crucial to combat feline obesity effectively.

By prioritizing prevention, we can enhance feline well-being, reduce healthcare costs, and promote healthier lives for our beloved cats!


Godfrey, H et al. (2024) Identifying the target population and preventive strategies to combat feline obesity. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. doi: 10.1177/1098612X241228042

Written by: Hannah Godfrey, BSc.H., MSc., PhD Candidate & Shawna Morrow, BSc.H., MSc. Candidate

Reviewed By: Dr Adronie Verbrugghe, DVM, PhD, Dip ECVCN, Associate Professor and Royal Canin Veterinary Diets Endowed Chair in Canine and Feline Clinical Nutrition

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