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New research from WALTHAM demonstrates the importance of portion control for maintaining healthy body weight in neutered female kittens

Oct. 13, 2011 A team of researchers has shown that female kittens consume more food and are more likely to be overweight post-neutering when compared with entire littermates. This research was conducted at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, the fundamental science centre supporting Mars Petcare brands such as WHISKAS and ROYAL CANIN.

In a 12-month study conducted by WALTHAM scientists, neutered female kittens consumed more food than their entire littermates for an 18 week period post-neutering and exhibited increased body weight. Despite having very similar food intake beyond the 18 week post-neutering phase, neutered kittens were on average 24% heavier than their littermates at 1 year of age.

The research involved 12 pairs of 11 week old female kittens who were randomly assigned to 2 groups. One group of kittens were neutered at 19 weeks of age while the second group remained entire for the 1 year of the study.

Across the developed world, cat obesity rates are rising, with recent figures indicating that up to 50% of cats are either overweight or obese. This research sheds new light on the factors influencing body weight in cats and could have important implications for developing feeding strategies to counteract weight gain in neutered kittens.

"This research suggests that neutered kittens may have a reduced metabolisable energy requirement. As such, they should not be given free access to food and owners should pay careful attention to their female kitten's weight after neutering. Introducing portion control to maintain an ideal body condition score and substituting some wet kitten food into the diet are useful strategies for helping with healthy weight management in this context," commented study author and WALTHAM scientist Dr. Lucille Alexander. "The fact that a year later, neutered kittens were still heavier despite consuming the same amount of food as their entire littermates indicates that the 18 week post-neutering phase has long-term effects on body weight and may be of particular importance. This finding warrants further investigation."

Contact: Dr. Abigail Stevenson
WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition

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