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Effect of food toys on owner-perceived quality of life of cats during a prescribed weight loss plan

Lauren E. Dodd DVM, mph, ms1, Stephen R. Werre PhD1, and Megan L. Shepherd DVM, Phd1
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  • 1 From the Departments of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (Dodd, Shepherd) and Population Health Sciences (Werre), Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24060.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine the effect of a food toy on owner-perceived quality of life (QOL) of overweight cats during a weight loss plan.

ANIMALS

44 adult cats, 1 to 10 years of age with a body condition score (BCS) ≥ 7/9.

PROCEDURES

Cats were randomly assigned to the food toy or food bowl group. Cat owners completed an initial questionnaire and received a prescribed weight loss plan, bag of dry veterinary therapeutic cat food formulated for weight loss, measuring cup, and food bowl or ball-type food toy. Body weight and BCS were checked monthly. Owners completed a monthly questionnaire to assess their cat’s QOL. Low-calorie vegetables were offered to 32 cats whose owners reported disruptive food-seeking behavior.

RESULTS

Of the 44 cats in the final analysis, 29 cats either lost ≥ 2 BCS points or achieved an ideal BCS. Owner-perceived QOL was higher at the final weigh-in, compared with that at the initial weigh-in. An effect of food toy versus food bowl on owner-perceived QOL was not detected. Of the cats offered vegetables, 28 cats would eat the vegetables with a palatability additive; 4 cats ate vegetables plain.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Owner-perceived QOL was higher at the end of the study. Feeding overweight cats by use of a ball-type food toy did not influence owner-perceived QOL. Low-calorie vegetables can successfully be added to the weight loss diet to promote satiety; albeit, a palatability additive is likely needed. Further studies regarding feeding management for cats during a weight loss plan should be explored.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine the effect of a food toy on owner-perceived quality of life (QOL) of overweight cats during a weight loss plan.

ANIMALS

44 adult cats, 1 to 10 years of age with a body condition score (BCS) ≥ 7/9.

PROCEDURES

Cats were randomly assigned to the food toy or food bowl group. Cat owners completed an initial questionnaire and received a prescribed weight loss plan, bag of dry veterinary therapeutic cat food formulated for weight loss, measuring cup, and food bowl or ball-type food toy. Body weight and BCS were checked monthly. Owners completed a monthly questionnaire to assess their cat’s QOL. Low-calorie vegetables were offered to 32 cats whose owners reported disruptive food-seeking behavior.

RESULTS

Of the 44 cats in the final analysis, 29 cats either lost ≥ 2 BCS points or achieved an ideal BCS. Owner-perceived QOL was higher at the final weigh-in, compared with that at the initial weigh-in. An effect of food toy versus food bowl on owner-perceived QOL was not detected. Of the cats offered vegetables, 28 cats would eat the vegetables with a palatability additive; 4 cats ate vegetables plain.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Owner-perceived QOL was higher at the end of the study. Feeding overweight cats by use of a ball-type food toy did not influence owner-perceived QOL. Low-calorie vegetables can successfully be added to the weight loss diet to promote satiety; albeit, a palatability additive is likely needed. Further studies regarding feeding management for cats during a weight loss plan should be explored.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Shepherd (meshephe@vt.edu).