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Article

The Diets of Companion Cats in Aotearoa New Zealand: Identification of Obesity Risk Factors

1
Eastern Institute of Technology, Hawke’s Bay, 501 Gloucester Street, Taradale, Napier 4112, New Zealand
2
Companion Animals New Zealand, Wellington 6141, New Zealand
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Leonardo Leonardi
Animals 2021, 11(10), 2881; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102881
Received: 31 August 2021 / Revised: 23 September 2021 / Accepted: 30 September 2021 / Published: 2 October 2021
Currently, there is a paucity of studies exploring the behaviours of people living in Aotearoa New Zealand regarding their responsibilities as pet owners and the factors that may influence these behaviours. In order to improve pet management and, in turn, animal welfare, we need to understand the factors that contribute to why humans behave the way they do towards their animals so that we can implement effective behaviour change programmes to benefit animal welfare. The current study aims to explore what companion cats in Aotearoa New Zealand are being fed and identify possible owner-related risk factors for developing obesity in cats. Identifying these risk factors may assist in developing future research and new approaches to obesity prevention in cats that focus on positive behaviour changes in their owners.
One in four New Zealand cats are overweight or obese, conditions associated with poor health outcomes. As part of an online survey that was conducted from January 2019 to March 2019, NZ residents aged ≥18 years were asked demographic questions along with questions related to the body condition, breed and diet of their cat/s. From the responses, possible owner-related risk factors for developing obesity were identified. Of the respondents, 65.5% (n = 1537) owned cat/s; the owners being more likely to be female, live rurally, or live with children. Most of the respondents fed their cat/s biscuits from the supermarket (63%) and wet food (57%). Almost half (45%) fed their cat/s specialised food from a pet shop or veterinary clinic and gave them treats, with 31% of respondents feeding their cat/s raw meat. Feeding cats a variety of food types may make it difficult to estimate the appropriate amount of each needed to avoid excess caloric intake. In addition, approximately 30% of the respondents did not agree with the correct body condition statement, revealing a need for owner education. These findings highlight important areas of cat nutrition requiring future research to better inform the development of healthy weight interventions for NZ cats. View Full-Text
Keywords: body condition; cats; companion animal; diet; feline; food; New Zealand; obesity; pet body condition; cats; companion animal; diet; feline; food; New Zealand; obesity; pet
MDPI and ACS Style

Forrest, R.; Awawdeh, L.; Esam, F.; Pearson, M.; Waran, N. The Diets of Companion Cats in Aotearoa New Zealand: Identification of Obesity Risk Factors. Animals 2021, 11, 2881. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102881

AMA Style

Forrest R, Awawdeh L, Esam F, Pearson M, Waran N. The Diets of Companion Cats in Aotearoa New Zealand: Identification of Obesity Risk Factors. Animals. 2021; 11(10):2881. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102881

Chicago/Turabian Style

Forrest, Rachel, Leena Awawdeh, Fiona Esam, Maria Pearson, and Natalie Waran. 2021. "The Diets of Companion Cats in Aotearoa New Zealand: Identification of Obesity Risk Factors" Animals 11, no. 10: 2881. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102881

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