As in dogs, obesity may contribute to osteoarthritis or the clinical manifestations of osteoarthritis in cats. In a prospective study of 1,457 cats in which body scores were assigned and their health statuses were followed for 4.5 years, an association between excess body weight and lameness was substantiated.1 Compared with optimal-weight cats, heavy cats (5 on a scale of 1 to 6) were 2.9 times as likely to become lame, and obese cats (6 out of 6) were 4.9 times more likely. In this study, the cause of lameness was not confirmed but assumed to be related to osteoarthritis or soft tissue injuries.1 However, in a recent survey of 218 cats, excess weight was not found to be correlated with degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis.2
1. Scarlett JM, Donoghue S. Associations between body condition and disease in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;212(11):1725-1731.
2. Clarke SP, Mellor D, Clements DN, et al. Prevalence of radiographic signs of degenerative joint disease in a hospital population of cats. Vet Rec 2005;157(25):793-799.