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Searching for Genes Responsible for Feline Obesity

Obesity and obesity-associated diseases are growing health threats to cats. A recent study determined that 19.0 percent of cats are overweight and 7.8 percent are obese. Multiple diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and dermatosis, are associated with excess body weight and may result in a lower quality of life and potentially an early death. Previous investigations revealed significant differences between lean and overweight cats. In lean cats, an average body fat content of 8.0 percent was observed, whereas overweight cats had an average body fat content of 25.6 percent. Researchers from the University of Sydney hypothesize that a single major gene may be responsible for a large fraction of the observed variation in body composition. This study will use SNP chips--a new genetic tool that could help better determine the genes involved.  SNP chips are a type of DNA chip that contain single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), genetic footprints found in DNA, to locate the genes potentially responsible for increased body weight. Identification of a causative mutation would allow genetic testing to facilitate the breeding of healthier cats. A better understanding of the control of body mass may also highlight better management options, such as diet.

 

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Dr. Bianca Haase, University of Sydney, Australia