Mortality rates and causes of death among emaciated cats

V. Paul Doria-Rose Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.

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Janet M. Scarlett Section of Epidemiology, Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Science, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine mortality rates and causes of death for thin (ie, lean or emaciated) cats and, if mortality rates were high, to determine factors associated with risk that cats would be thin.

Design—Cohort study.

Animals—1,138 cats examined at 27 private veterinary practices in the northeastern United States.

Procedure—Body condition of the cats was scored (emaciated, lean, optimally lean, optimal, heavy, obese) between 1991 and 1992. Follow-up information on whether cats had developed any illnesses, whether cats had died, and, if cats had died, cause of death was obtained between 1994 and 1996. Mortality risk for emaciated cats was estimated, using cats in optimal condition as the reference group.

Results—Survival curves for emaciated cats were significantly lower than those for cats of other body conditions. Compared with cats in optimal condition, emaciated cats were 4.4 times as likely to die during the follow-up period. However, after adjusting for age and excluding cats that died within 1 year after body condition was scored, emaciated cats were no longer significantly more likely to die. Emaciated cats were more likely to die of an unknown cause than were cats of optimal condition. Risk factors for emaciated body condition included preexisting illness, age, and Siamese breed.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that emaciated cats had a significantly higher risk of death, compared with cats in optimal body condition. Serious illness and advancing age accounted for much, and perhaps all, of this increased risk of death. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:347–351)

Abstract

Objective—To determine mortality rates and causes of death for thin (ie, lean or emaciated) cats and, if mortality rates were high, to determine factors associated with risk that cats would be thin.

Design—Cohort study.

Animals—1,138 cats examined at 27 private veterinary practices in the northeastern United States.

Procedure—Body condition of the cats was scored (emaciated, lean, optimally lean, optimal, heavy, obese) between 1991 and 1992. Follow-up information on whether cats had developed any illnesses, whether cats had died, and, if cats had died, cause of death was obtained between 1994 and 1996. Mortality risk for emaciated cats was estimated, using cats in optimal condition as the reference group.

Results—Survival curves for emaciated cats were significantly lower than those for cats of other body conditions. Compared with cats in optimal condition, emaciated cats were 4.4 times as likely to die during the follow-up period. However, after adjusting for age and excluding cats that died within 1 year after body condition was scored, emaciated cats were no longer significantly more likely to die. Emaciated cats were more likely to die of an unknown cause than were cats of optimal condition. Risk factors for emaciated body condition included preexisting illness, age, and Siamese breed.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that emaciated cats had a significantly higher risk of death, compared with cats in optimal body condition. Serious illness and advancing age accounted for much, and perhaps all, of this increased risk of death. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:347–351)

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