Virginia Tech® home

Feline Obesity Study

Loading player for
Category: research Video duration: Feline Obesity Study
"Fat cats" and their owners participated in a study conducted by veterinarians at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. Because implementing weight-loss plans can be challenging for cats and pet owners alike, Megan Shepherd, assistant professor of clinical nutrition; Lauren Dodd, clinical nutrition resident; and study sponsor Purina set out to discover how owners' perceptions of their cats' quality of life were influenced by adding food toys to the cats' weight-loss regimen. 

Learn more about the study and its participants at

[00:00:20] >> About half of the cats in the U.S. are overweight and, just like in humans, there are complications associated with obesity, such as joint disease. So we're ultimately interested in how to help manage obesity to prevent the number of pets that are obese and ultimately how to make the weight loss process easier for clients. [00:00:40] We hear all the time that feline owners want their cats to lose weight because they understand how important it is to keep their cat an ideal body weight; however, they sometimes have trouble sticking to the diet plan. We wanted to find a way to gauge how owners perceive their cats' quality of life during the weight-loss plan. [00:00:58] So we partnered with collaborators at Purina to design a weight-loss plan specifically looking at the impact of feeding method, as well as an individualized weight-loss plan on the success of weight loss in overweight cats. We kind of knew that he had a problem, but we didn't know the extent of the problem. [00:01:15] It wasn't until we got here that we realized that we really needed to be taking action. Sophie was a rescue kitty from the animal shelter. About four years ago, she really became more overweight and started having issues with her weight. We had gone to the vet a couple of times, and the vet came across the study, and she was, well, let's try this. [00:01:35] I was really excited about the study just because weight loss is something that a lot of people struggle with with their pet and especially cats, so anything that can help people achieve their goals of weight loss in their animals is great. The obesity problem is rising in the human population, and it's also rising in our companion animal population. [00:01:53] One of the owners, she started her weight-loss plan with her cat. At Purina, we understand there are many factors involved in helping animals lose weight and helping their owners be compliant in the weight-loss plan for their pets. When Miko entered the study, he was 17.6 pounds, and now he is 14.02 pounds. [00:02:26] When the doctor first told me about the study, she was 16 pounds, and now she is down to 10 pounds. His quality of life has definitely improved; he plays a lot more. He's just a lot more active, kind of like how he was when he was a kitten. [00:02:41] She is more playful, more active. He's also been able to groom himself a lot more easily now, too. Jumping out of bed was almost impossible. Now, she can jump a lot higher than that. He's just a happier cat. Overall, just a happier cat.