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  • Prevalence: 6-27 % cats overweight or obese in Europe1,2,3 and 0.25-2% cats with diabetes mellitus4,5.
  • Type 2-like diabetes (decrease in insulin sensitivity) is more common in cats (80-95%)4,5.
  • Obesity is the main risk factor for diabetes mellitus3-6: insulin sensitivity is reduced by more than half when body weight is increased by 44% in cats6.
  • Overweight/obesity and diabetes depend on many factors including gender (males at higher risk), physical inactivity, being neutered, indoor confinement and increasing age1-6.



    • 1. Ribs visible on shorthaired cats. No palpable fat. Severe abdominal tuck. Lumbar vertebrae and wings of ilia easily palpated.
    • 2. Ribs easily visible on shorthaired cats. Lumbar vertebrae obvious. Pronounced abdominal tuck. No palpable fat.
    • 3. Ribs easily palpable with minimal fat covering. Lumbar vertebrae obvious. Obvious waist behind ribs. Minimal abdominal fat.
    • 4. Ribs palpable with minimal fat covering. Noticeable waist behind ribs. Slight abdominal tuck. Abdominal fat pad absent.
    • 5. Well-proportioned. Observe waist behind ribs. Ribs palpable with slight fat covering. Abdominal fat pad minimal.
    • 6. Ribs palpable with slight excess fat covering. Waist and abdominal fat pad distinguishable but not obvious. Abdominal tuck absent.
    • 7. Ribs not easily palpated with moderate fat covering. Waist poorly discernible. Obvious rounding of abdomen. Moderate abdominal fat pad.
    • 8. Ribs not palpable with excess fat covering. Waist absent. Obvious rounding of abdomen with prominent abdominal fat pad. Fat deposits present over lumbar area.
    • 9. Ribs not palpable under heavy fat cover. Heavy fat deposits over lumbar area, face and limbs. Distention of abdomen with no waist. Extensive abdominal fat deposits.

Bjornvad CR, et al. Evaluation of a nine-point body condition scoring system in physically inactive pet cats. AJVR 2011;72:433-437.

Laflamme DP. Development and validation of a body condition score system for cats: A clinical tool. Feline Pract 1997;25:13-18. ©2013. All rights reserved.

If not managed, obesity can lead to increased risk of health problems like diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disorders and early mortality8

Diabetes can lead to ketoacidosis, wound healing impairment and early mortality but the prognosis is good when the disease is well managed (requiring high owner involvement)9


Clinical diagnosis: obesity or weight loss, polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia4.

Serum and urine analysis : persistent hyperglycemia and glycosuria4 to correlate to high level of serum fructosamine7(to rule out stress hyperglycemia)9

  1. O’Neill DG et al. Prevalence of disorders recorded in cats attending primary-care veterinary practices in England. Vet J 2014; 202: 286–291.
  2. Colliard L et al. Prevalence and risk factors of obesity in an urban population of healthy cats. J Fel Med Surg 2009 ; 11(2): 135-40.
  3. Davies M. How prevalent is the overweight cat? Vet Rec 2012; 171(22): 558-9.
  4. Nelson RW, Reusch CE. Animal models of disease: classification and etiology of diabetes in dogs and cats. J Endocrinol 2014; 222(3): 1-9.
  5. Rand JS et al. Canine and feline diabetes mellitus: nature or nurture? J Nutr 2004; 134(8 Suppl): 2072S-2080S.
  6. Appleton DJ et al. Insulin sensitivity decreases with obesity, and lean cats with low insulin sensitivity are at greatest risk of glucose intolerance with weight gain. J Fel Med Surg 2001. 3: 211–228.
  7. Crenshaw KL et al. Serum fructosamine concentration as an index of glycemia in cats with diabetes mellitus and stress hyperglycemia. J Vet Intern Med 1996; 10(6): 360-4.
  8. Laflamme DP. Companion Animals Symposium: Obesity in dogs and cats: What is wrong with being fat? J Anim Sci 2012; 90(5): 1653-62.
  9. Sparkes AH et al. ISFM. ISFM consensus guidelines on the practical management of diabetes mellitus in cats. J Fel Med Surg 2015; 17(3): 235-50.
  10. Rucinsky R, Cook A, Haley S, Nelson R, Zoran DL, Poundstone M; American Animal Hospital Association. AAHA diabetes management guidelines. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2010; 46(3): 215-24.
  11. Reusch C., “Feline Diabetes Mellitus,” in: Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, S. Elsevier, 7th Ed, 2009: 1474-1510.