Objective - To determine effects of dietary lipid and protein on development of hepatic lipidosis (HL) and on physical and biochemical indices following rapid weight loss in cats. Animals - 24 ovariohysterectomized cats. Procedure - Cats were fed a high energy diet until they gained 30% of their ideal body weight and then randomly assigned to receive 1 of 4 weight-reduction diets (6 cats/diet) at 25% of maintenance energy requirements per day. Diets contained a low or high quality protein source and a lipid source deficient or sufficient in long chain essential fatty acids (LCEFA). Serum and plasma samples and liver biopsy specimens were obtained for biochemical analyses and determination of hepatic lipid content before and after weight gain and during and after weight loss. Results - Irrespective of weight-reduction diet fed, all cats lost weight at a comparable rate (4.51 to 5.00 g/d/kg of obese body weight). Three cats developed hepatic lipidosis. Significant changes in plasma insulin, cholesterol, triglyceride, and serum glucose concentrations were detected after weight gain and weight loss in all diet groups, but values for these variables did not differ among groups. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Cats can lose 25 to 30% of their obese body weight over 7 to 9 weeks without developing overt clinical signs of HL, provided that weight-reduction diets are highly palatable, contain a high quality protein, have a source of LCEFA, and are fortified with vitamins and microminerals. However, rapid weight loss may increase risk factors associated with development of diabetes mellitus.
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