Some cat owners have advocated not feeding dry food to cats for health reasons, and now the science may back those claims up. A recent study conducted by researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences found an increased risk of diabetes mellitus (Type 2) in normal-weight cats that consume a dry food diet.
The study, “Environmental Risk Factors for Diabetes Mellitus in Cats,” was published online December 1, 2016, and will be included in the January/February digital issue of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (JVIM), a publication of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM).
“Through our research we found that while obesity is a very important and prominent risk factor for diabetes mellitus in cats, there is also an increased risk of diabetes among normal-weight cats consuming a dry food diet,” said Malin Öhlund, DVM, a Ph.D student of the department of Clinical Services at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science and lead researcher on the study. “This correlation, compared to normal-weight cats on a wet food diet, is a new and interesting finding that warrants further research, as a dry food diet is commonly fed to cats around the world.”
This study investigated both new and known risk factors associated with diabetes mellitus in cats. In addition to an increased risk among normal-weight cats on a dry food diet, the study also found that indoor confinement and inactivity, being a greedy eater and being overweight were also associated with an increased risk of diabetes mellitus in cats.
“Environmental Risk Factors for Diabetes Mellitus in Cats” is the largest case-control study about diabetic cats to date. The web-based survey, which was conducted over a four-month period, evaluated 2,066 cats—396 with diabetes mellitus and 1,670 control cats—based on 48 questions that focused on the cat’s age, breed, sex, neutering status and body condition, as well as questions regarding the cat’s general health, eating behavior and routine, and activity level, among others.