Effect of Personalized Weight Loss Plan on Owner-Perceived Cat Quality of Life


To determine if obese cats fed according to individual weight loss plans will have higher owner-perceived quality of life and more effective weight loss.


At least 50% of pets in the United States are overweight or obese. Obesity is associated with health problems in pets such as insulin resistance, pancreatitis, and cancer. The challenges of obesity management include awareness (my pet is fat?), education (so what if my pet’s fat?), emotions (owner perception that “food is love”), behavior (pet begs incessantly), and weight loss plan success (formulating the right plan for the individual). Owners may become discouraged and discontinue the weight loss plan if they perceive their pet to have a poor quality of life. Improving owner perception of weight loss plans could improve weight loss success and help to reduce pet obesity. Since food restriction can perpetuate disruptive food seeking behavior (i.e. waking the owner at night, destroying carpet) and negatively impact owner-perceived quality of life, we are exploring ways to improve weight loss plans for obese cats.


Please note that all study visits must take place at the Vet School in Blacksburg, Virginia. Our Nutrition Service may be able to help via remote appointments or consultations with your home veterinarian should distance make your cat ineligible to participate. There is a fee for remote consultations.

  • Adult altered cats, 1-10 years of age
  • Housed exclusively indoors
  • Body condition score of 7/9 or greater
  • Willingness to consume dry food
  • Currently residing in a single pet household OR owner is willing to separate enrolled cat from other pets during feeding times
  • Free of overt disease where weight loss is contraindicated (i.e. cardiac disease, renal disease, cancer)

Study Design

Enrolled cats will be given a personalized weight loss plan. Owners will be asked to complete an initial questionnaire, including information about cat’s diet and management. A detailed weight loss plan, including transition instructions, will be delivered verbally and in writing. Owners will also receive weight loss food and diet-related equipment that forms part of the cat’s individual weight loss plan. Owners will be asked to implement the weight loss plan at home. Cats will receive monthly rechecks for nine months, and cat owners will complete a monthly questionnaire at each recheck.


Participating cats will receive free weight loss food and free monthly rechecks to monitor weight loss progress.


Nutrition Study Personnel
Office Phone: 540-231-1775 | Email: felinenutrition@vt.edu

If your query is urgent, please call the Small Animal Hospital on 540-231-4621 and ask for the nutritionist on duty.