Risk factors involved in the development of obesity in cats, in Palmerston North, New Zealand.
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Because of the growing problem of obesity in companion animals, this study aims to repeat a similar study conducted in 1993 in Palmerston North, by F. Allan, to determine if the proportion of obese cats has increased and to determine if the risk factors for the development of obesity in cats have changed. The study is conducted in a non- hospitalised, randomly selected population of cats in the region Palmerston North, New Zealand. A door-to-door survey obtained information about signalment, household variables, owner-cat affinity, cat feeding and cat characteristics of 200 cats. Also, cats were measured for weight, body length, leg length and body condition score. The interviewer’s assessment of the body condition of each cat was the dependant variable used in this study. Variables were grouped into four different risk factor groupings; cat characteristics, owner’s perception, environmental and cat management variables and a combined model. A multivariable stepwise logistic regression analysis was run on each of the groupings. Variables from the first three risk factor groupings, that were identified as significant from each model (p 0,05), were included in a combined model. The current study suggests that the incidence of feline obesity in Palmerston North, New Zealand has not increased over the last 15 years in comparison with the 1993 study of F. Allan, and only two risk factor agreed with both studies: the owner’s perception of the body condition of the cat and leg length. Because of the association between obesity and the owner’s perception of the body condition of their cat, veterinarians need to correct the owners’ perception if their cats is overweight, for weight loss to be successful and for the prevention of obesity.