Sep 8, 2010 2:39 PM by Bonnie Markoff, DVM

Does size matter?

Emma has asked about her 1 year old cat/kitten who seems healthy but only weighs 3-4 pounds. Please accept my apologies for the delay in answering your question, Emma - I was in Mongolia where, oddly enough, this very subject came up at the small animal where I advise. It seems there are a number of dog owners in Mongolia who are very concerned about being sure that their dogs meet the breed standards - that they are big enough. I suppose we will be having dog shows and cat shows in Mongolia soon. We might have to remake the move Best In Show to include camels!

I cannot tell you if Leila's size is normal or a health threat without seeing her. You said she is a unique looking cat and that makes me wonder if she might have a genetic disorder similar to dwarfism. There are breeds of cats (and other species) that are purposefully bred to be very small. Most of these animals have more health problems as they age. At the same time, I have seen many normal 3-4 pound cats. I am very pleased to hear that Leila appears to be a happy and healthy cat, but I think you should have a veterinarian take a look at her and advise you as to whether or not there may be some pending orthopedic problems or if she looks like she might have a genetic disease associated with medical issues.

The idea that there is an ideal size or "look" for an animal or breed is a dangerous thing. When breeds are developed, standards are written down so that breeders can help to keep the breed "pure" and so breeders can have similar goals when choosing which dogs to mate. Once a breed is established, I see some people start to misuse these standards. I have seen people who were once proud of their pet, become disillusioned when they find out the pet does not meet "standards." These people may abandon the pet or simply ignore it at home. We all need to remember that our pets are living beings. As long as they are healthy, we should be more focused on loving our pets than worrying about how tall they are or what color the hair is. It is clear that Emma realizes this and I hope everyone else does.

My biggest concern with animal size is body condition scoring - how fat they are. Most house cats and dogs are overweight. Check out Animal Care Clinic's website and Facebook discussion page to learn more about keeping your pets fit. Visit Animacareclinicslo.com and facebook.com/animalcareclinic, or call us at 545-8212.



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