Obesity in pet cats is a growing concern. Approximately 25 to 40% of the pet cat population is considered overweight or obese. In this study, the authors performed a prospective evaluation of 76 overweight or obese cats ≥ 1 year of age. The goal was to develop morphometric equations for prediction of body composition and create a body fat index (BFI) system to estimate the body fat percentage in overweight or obese cats.
They used a similar system for assessment of body composition in overweight and obese dogs where body condition score (BCS) was determined with a 5-point scale, morphometric measurements were made, and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) as a reference standard was performed. In phase one, the authors developed a body fat index chart with descriptors for visual and palpation-based assessment of the overweight and obese cats that included BFI levels of 30%, 40%, 50%, and 60%. In phase two, results indicated body fat as a percentage of total body weight predicted with BCS was within 10% of DEXA for 5 of 39 (13%) and with BFI for 22 of 39 (56%) cats. The authors believe the BFI system and morphometric equations were considered accurate for estimation of body composition components in this population of cats. The developed tools such as BFI were also found to be more useful than BCS for evaluation of obesity in these patients. Research evaluating other feline populations will need to be completed to validate the use of these methods in different groups of cats. (VLT)