This retrospective case-control study explored consumption of dry cat food and a sedentary lifestyle as risk factors for development of feline diabetes mellitus (DM). Cases (96) and controls (192) were matched according to age, gender, weight, and body condition to control for these commonly recognized risk factors. A calculated "average exposure" to dry and canned cat food was expressed as a percentage of daily caloric intake. Analysis of data collected from client questionnaires showed no significant correlation between dry food consumption and development of DM. Since dry cat food has a much greater carbohydrate content than canned, high carbohydrate intake also did not appear to be a risk factor. In assessing lifestyles, indoor confinement and physical inactivity were highly significant risk factors for development of DM.

COMMENTARY: Indoor cats are often physically inactive, which may lead to obesity and an increased risk of developing DM. In this study, indoor confinement and physical inactivity were significant risk factors even though the study design controlled for obesity. Other factors associated with DM should be investigated, such as insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity in physically active muscle. In this study, consumption of dry cat food did not increase the risk of developing DM and it was suggested that high carbohydrate intake was also not a risk factor. Because dry and canned cat foods differ by more than carbohydrate content, additional research is needed to evaluate potential roles individual nutrients may or may not play in development of DM. While retrospective case-control studies rely on pet owner recall and confounding variables are sometimes unavoidable, they provide insight into areas for further research.

Indoor confinement and physical inactivity rather than the proportion of dry food are risk factors in the development of feline type 2 diabetes mellitus. Slingerland LI, Fazilova VV, Plantinga EA, et al. Vet J, Oct 2007