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Body Condition Scoring for Cats

Bjornvad CR, Nielsen DH, Armstrong PJ et al: Evaluation of a nine-point body condition scoring system in physically inactive pet cats, Am J Vet Res 72:433, 2011.

About 35% to 40% of the adult pet cat population is overweight or obese. Obesity in cats predisposes them to diseases such as lower urinary tract disease, lameness, hepatic lipidosis, non-allergic skin disease, and diabetes mellitus. Body weight (BW) is an objective measurement and is useful for follow-up in weight loss programs, but it does not provide any indication of body composition or lean-to-fat body mass. The most widely used system for body composition is the 9-point semi-quantitative system for body condition score (BCS) that is based on visual and palpatory findings (BCS: 1 = emaciated, 5 = ideal, and 9 = grossly obese). The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether a 9-point BCS system and the % body fat (BF) assigned to each BCS based on data from colony cats is valid for privately owned, indoor-confined, adult neutered DSH cats. The study determined that the 9-point BCS system reflected actual body composition well in pet DSH cats. Nevertheless, the percentage of BF associated with each BCS was higher in this study than was reported for colony cats. This was particularly noted for male cats. For relevancy to veterinary practice, it was recommended that to detect subtle weight change in individual cats, the BCS system should be combined with regular BW measurements at all veterinary visits. Study findings could indicate a need for redefining the ideal BCS for inactive neutered cats to include a BCS of 4. [VT]

Related articles:
Baez JL, Michel KE, Sorenmo K et al: A prospective investigation of the prevalence and prognostic significance of weight loss and changes in body condition in feline cancer patients, J Feline Med Surg 9:411, 2007.