Associations between early neutering, obesity, outdoor access, trauma and feline degenerative joint disease

Evangelia Maniaki, Jo Murrell, Sorrel J Langley-Hobbs, Emily J Blackwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
79 Downloads (Pure)


OBJECTIVES: The aim of this case-control study was to identify early-life risk factors associated with the occurrence of owner-reported mobility changes in 6-year-old cats by examining prospective data from a longitudinal cohort study of pet cats, the Bristol Cats study.

METHODS: Data on potential risk factors were obtained from seven sequential questionnaires completed between the ages of 2-4 months and 5 years. Mobility-related questions from the study questionnaire distributed at the age of 6 years were used to calculate each cat's mobility score. Cats with mobility scores of ⩾2 and 0 were allocated to the case and control groups, respectively, and the cat's status was the outcome variable.

RESULTS: Of the 799 cats included for analysis, 238 (29.8%) had owner-reported mobility changes. Binomial logistic regression using backwards elimination identified four risk factors for owner-reported mobility changes at 6 years of age: entire neuter status at 6 months of age (odds ratio [OR] 1.97; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.26-3.07), sustained trauma before 6 years of age (OR 1.85; 95% CI 1.30-2.60), outdoor access at 6 years of age (OR 1.67; 95% CI 0.96-2.90) and overweight/obese status at 6 years of age (OR 1.62; 95% CI 1.13-2.33).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Risk factor analysis demonstrated that obesity, outdoor access and a history of trauma may predispose cats to developing owner-reported mobility changes associated with degenerative joint disease, whereas neutering before 6 months of age appears to decrease that risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)965-975
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
Issue number10
Early online date11 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank all owners and their cats for their ongoing participation in the Bristol Cats study, as well as the Bristol Cats study team for assisting with data acquisition. Many thanks to Dr Jennifer McDonald for her helpful comments on the manuscript. This study was funded by Zoetis as part of Evangelia Maniaki?s Feline Scholar role. The Bristol Cats study is funded by Cats Protection and Waltham Petcare Science Institute.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis, mobility, Bristol Cats study, risk factors, obesity, trauma, outdoor access, neutering


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