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Title: Prolonged suckling in kittens confers protection against overweight and obesity in adult cats (Felis Sylvestris catus)
Authors: van Lent, Denise
Corbee, R.J.
Peeters, Els
van Straalen, N.M.
Stolting, Marcellina
Issue Date: 11-Sep-2014
Publisher: European society of Veterinary & Comparative Nutrition
Host Document: Proceedings of the 18th congress of the ESVCN
Conference: 18th Congress of the European Society of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition edition:18 location:Utrecht, The Netherlands date:11-13 September 2014
Abstract: Prolonged suckling in kittens confers protection against overweight and obesity in adult cats (Felis Sylvestris catus)

D. van Lent1,2, R.J. Corbee3, E.H.K.A. Peeters4, N.M. van Straalen2, M. Stolting1
1Feline Advisory Bureau Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2Department of Animal Ecology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 3Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, University of Utrecht, Yalelaan 108, 3584 CM Utrecht, The Netherlands,4 Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Introduction: According to human research, a prolonged period of breast feeding confers protection of the baby against overweight and obesity in adult life. The influence of the duration of the suckling period on feline obesity has not been considered, while domesticated animals such as the cat are typically exposed to early separation between mother and kittens. The aim of this study was to evaluate the hypothesis that when cats are able to suckle longer, they run a lower risk of becoming overweight and obese in adult life.

Animals, Material and Methods: Ninety-six healthy adult cats were included. The Total Body Fat Percentage (TBF %) of each cat was compared with the duration of the suckling period. Through an extensive questionnaire with the pet owner, information about the cat’s diet, health status, lifestyle and physical activity was obtained.

Results and discussion: Forty-eight out of ninety-six cats (50%) were overweight of which sixteen cats (17%) were obese. The fraction of overweight cats was significantly higher (up to 80%) in the short suckling period classes (0-13 weeks), while it was significantly lower (30% or less) in the classes with longer suckling periods (>13 weeks). Interestingly, in the long suckling period classes that was comprised of mainly purebred cats, cats were more inactive, the usage of treats was more frequent and cats were more often fed ad libitum, despite having a healthier TBF%. Conclusion: Purebred cats generally have a longer suckling period than mixed-breed cats and are less likely to be obese indicating that a shorter suckling period predisposes cats to overweight and obesity. We suggest that during the pre-weaning phase a leptin set-point needs to be established as a prerequisite for adult animals to regulate food-intake properly. Additionally, heightened stress levels induced by maternal separation might contribute to the development of abnormal eating behavior.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Studiegebied Biotechniek Odisee

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