Body condition scores (BCS) and MCS evaluations are a key part of a complete nutritional assessment for cats, said Christina Fernandez, DVM, MRCVS, DACVECC, professional services veterinarian with Kindred Biosciences.
In the survey, 59 percent of veterinarians said they captured BCS during physical exams, but only 14 percent said they perform MCS assessments.
“MCS evaluations are a relatively new practice but are increasingly recognized as a best practice in feline care,” Dr. Fernandez said. “BCS has been a standard practice for many practitioners, and there are multiple validated scoring systems. Most veterinarians perform a BCS during regular visits, but BCS only evaluates the animal’s body fat. MCS evaluations are easy to incorporate into the physical exam and provide extremely valuable information for trending patient body composition status over time. It helps veterinarians watch for any muscle loss over time to ensure our feline patients maintain a healthy body composition — and maybe even offer early warning signs of disease.”
Muscle loss can be a result of age, illness, and/or injury; no matter the cause, muscle loss can make an animal weaker, depress immune function, and reduce the ability to recover from illness, surgery, or injury, according to Kindred.
The MCS is determined by feeling the cat’s muscles over its back, head, shoulders, and hips. Muscle loss contributes to weight loss and can occur in the absence of fat loss. Even an overweight animal can still have declining muscle condition.
“Including an MCS evaluation takes less than a minute to perform,” Fernandez said. “It’s easy to make it a part of the routine during a regular physical exam, takes no additional equipment, and can be trending over time by recording it in the medical record along with the BCS. It’s a best practice that also provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the importance of overall body weight, body fat, and muscle condition with cat owners.”