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Dry food linked to diabetes in cats

Last changed: 02 March 2017

Diabetes in cats resembles type 2 diabetes in people. The etiology is not fully understood, but both genetic and environmental factors are believed to contribute. The objective of the present study was to assess the associations of environmental risk factors with diabetes in cats.


Cats with a diagnosis of diabetes (n = 396) insured by a Swedish insurance company during years 2009–2013, and a control group (n = 1,670) matched on birth year.


A web-based questionnaire was used in a case–control study. An invitation to participate was sent to owners of 1,369 diabetic cats and 5,363 control cats. The survey contained questions related to the cat's breed, age, sex, neutering status, body condition, housing, access to the outdoors, activity level, diet, eating behavior, feeding routine, general health, stressful events, other pets in the household, medications, and vaccination status. Data were analyzed by multiple logistic regression.


Response rate was 35% for the diabetic group and 32% for the control group. Indoor confinement, being a greedy eater, and being overweight were associated with an increased risk of diabetes. In cats assessed by owners as being normal weight, there was an association between eating predominantly dry food and an increased risk of diabetes (Odds ratio 3.8; 95% confidence intervals 1.3–11.2).

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

Dry food is commonly fed to cats worldwide. The association found between dry food and an increased risk of diabetes in cats assessed as normal weight by owners warrants further attention.

Link to the article


Öhlund, M., Egenvall, A., Fall, T., Hansson-Hamlin, H., Röcklinsberg, H. and Holst, B.S. Environmental Risk Factors for Diabetes Mellitus in Cats. J Vet Intern Med. 2017; 31:29–35, doi:10.1111/jvim.14618


Malin Öhlund
PhD student at the Department of Clinical Sciences; Clinical Pathology Unit             

CV Malin Öhlund                                           

Telephone: 018-672958