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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Prevalence and risk factors for the development of diabetes mellitus in Swedish cats

Marie Sallander12*, Johanna Eliasson1 and Åke Hedhammar1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7054, Uppsala, S-750 07, Sweden

2 Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 234, Skara, S-532 23, Sweden

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Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2012, 54:61  doi:10.1186/1751-0147-54-61

Published: 31 October 2012

Abstract

Background

The prevalence and risk factors for the development of feline diabetes mellitus (FDM) in Swedish cats have not previously been reported. The objective of the present pilot study was to indicate prevalence and possible risk factors for FDM in Swedish cats. Twenty diabetic cats from the database at the University Animal Hospital in Uppsala participated in the study, and these were matched with 20 healthy controls on sex and age. A mail-and-telephone questionnaire focusing on diet, activity and obesity was used.

Results

The prevalence of FDM during the years 2000–2004 based on the results of the hospital records in the present study was 21 per 10,000 cats. The diabetic cats were on average 9 years old when the disease signs were discovered (median, min-max 2–15). Among FDM cases, it was more common to be male (n=17 males vs n=3 females; P≤0.05). Ten out of twenty owners to cases (50%) reported their cats to be obese at the time of the diagnosis (median 9 years, min-max 2–15), as compared to five out of twenty (25%) controls at the same age. The median BW at the time for diagnosis was 5.5 kg (min-max 2.0-9.0) for cases, and 5.0 kg (min-max 3.0-8.0 kg) for controls, respectively. Despite that both cases and controls had the same median age at the time of the study (13 years, min-max 3–18), a significantly higher number of controls were alive at that age (n=16 controls vs 8 cases; P≤0.05). A significantly higher proportion of cases that were obese at the time of the FDM diagnosis were dead at the time of the study compared to the proportion of controls that were obese at a similar age (P≤0.05).

The diets given at the time for diagnosis for cases compared to diet of the controls at a similar time were mainly commercial foods, and controls consumed a higher proportion of dry foods compared to cases (medians 79 vs 44% of DM intake/d, respectively; P0.05). Cases were less active compared to the controls (2.3 and 3.2 h/d, respectively; P≤0.05).

Conclusions

The results indicate that the proportions of dry foods in the diet, to perform low activity and to be obese could be identified as preliminary risk factors for FDM in Swedish cats, and should be taken into account in preventive measures as well as in the design of future epidemiological studies in this population.

Keywords:
Cat; Diabetes; Diet; Activity; Obesity