Overweight Cats In UK Facing Diabetes Risk


Many cats that are overweight are facing the risk of diabetes. An increasing number of cats are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, as the lack of exercise and heavier body affect their health.

An University of Edinburgh study that involved 14,000 cats concluded that one in every 230 cats in the UK is diabetic.

Cats with weight problems are said to be more than three times as likely to suffer from diabetes. Neutered male cats that do not get adequate amount of exercise are particularly at risk.

Cat owners are being urged to watch their cat’s health and weight, control the amount of treats they feed and to make sure their cat gets enough exercise.

Professor Danielle Gunn-Moore, from Edinburgh University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said: “This is the first study of its kind to try to quantify diabetes among cats in the UK and the results show extremely worrying levels. To reduce your cat’s risk of developing this often fatal disease you need to keep them active, and not allow them to gain too much weight.”

The number of diabetic cats in this UK study is almost five times higher than a previous study done in the US in the 1970s.

Between 85% and 95% of diabetic cats suffer from type II diabetes, which is commonly associated with obesity.

Researchers say that cats are are following in the footsteps of their human counterpart. Over 2 million people in the UK have diabetes.

They also say that like people, cats will overeat if they are offered tasty food, are bored and have nothing else to do. Cats are more likely to be housebound, so cats are not getting enough exercise

Burmese cats were found to be three times more likely to develop diabetes than any other pedigree breed.

Source: BBC News

8 Responses to “Overweight Cats In UK Facing Diabetes Risk”

  1. catmom5 says:

    Just how do you exercise a cat? Mine pretty much do what they want when they want ~ will play for a while but they are best at napping! A vet tech suggested hiding their food around the house so they have to hunt for it. Maybe this is a good time to try that!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Treats and exercise have nothing whatsoever to do with this. This is poor reporting, probably a product of the veterinary establishment and its sponsors the petfood industry. The article says nothing about the dangerous and completely species-inappropriate levels of grains/carbs added to catfood to pump up petfood industry profits (and guarantee continuing veterinary income). Cats should not be fed grains and carbs. Time to get the fact out:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~jacm2/id1.html American Veterinary Medical Association:
    “THE CARNIVORE CONNECTION TO NUTRITION IN CATS” by Debra L. Zoran, DVM, PhD, DACVIM. Article on feline nutrition that appeared in JAVMA December 1, 2002 (Volume 221, No. 11)

    Carbohydrates and Fats

    It is clear that cats have a greater need than dogs or other omnivores for protein in their diet. Cats also have several physiologic adaptations that reflect their expected low CHO intake. The first of these is that cats lack salivary amylase, the enzyme responsible for initiating CHO digestion.25 In addition, cats also have low activities of intestinal and pancreatic amylase and reduced activities of intestinal disaccharidases that break down CHOs in the small intestines.25,26 These specific differences do not mean cats cannot use starch. In fact, cats are extremely efficient in their use of simple sugars. However, it does underscore their development as carnivores and the expected low amounts of grain in their typical diet. These digestive differences may mean that high amounts of CHO in diets may have untoward effects on cats

    ….. In cats, the liver also has several distinct features that influence disaccharide metabolism. In most animals, hepatic hexokinase (a constitutive enzyme) and glucokinase (an inducible enzyme) are active and responsible for phosphorylation of glucose for storage or oxidation. Cats differ in that they have minimal function of hepatic glucokinase, and the activity is not adaptive (ie, activity cannot be up-regulated when the diet contains large amounts of CHO).28,29 In addition, cats also have minimal activity of hepatic glycogen synthetase (the enzyme responsible for converting glucose to glycogen for storage in the liver).2 Again, the likely reason for low hepatic glucokinase and glycogen synthetase activity in cats is a metabolic program that uses gluconeogenic amino acids and fat, rather than starch, in their diet for energy. As a result, cats have limited ability to rapidly minimize hyperglycemia from a large dietary glucose load. In carnivores, blood glucose concentrations are more consistent (eg, less postprandial fluctuations), because glucose is released in small continuous boluses over a longer time frame as a result of gluconeogenic catabolism of proteins. Thus, additional starch in the diet that is not stored as muscle glycogen or used for energy is stored as fat. The liver in cats also does not contain fructokinase, an enzyme necessary for metabolism of simple sugars. Lack of this enzyme was documented in a study30 in which cats that consumed diets high in simple sugars became hyperglycemic and fructosuric.

  3. Stefani says:

    Anonymous is absolutely right. We owners have been duped by pet food industry marketing and ignorant vets into feeding our cats dry food, which for a long time we were told was good for their teeth.

    Well guess what? Our cats are getting diabetes. Their pancreas’ were never intended to process all these carbs, they are true carnivores.

    When was the last time you saw a cat chowing down in a cornfield? You haven’t, UNLESS he was dining on mice that were hiding there. Yet, dry cat food is laden with corn and other processed carbohydrates.

    This is why they are getting diabetes.

    Those of you interested in this subject or who have diabetic cats should check out one of the following two sites. The number of pet owners on these online communities will demonstrate how many pets are being affected by this:


    The latter site is run by Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins (vet) who has developed a protocol for treating diabetes that has a high success of helping cats get off insulin. Both lists are excellent resources for knowledgeable advice.

    That’s most important because if your cat becomes diabetic, chances are your vet won’t know what he’s doing and will endanger the life of your pet in his prescribed treatment. Based on what I have seen and experienced, the majority of vets out there are very ignorant in treating diabetes, prescribing outdated, inappropriate, and even dangerous treatment plans.

    For example, my diabetic cat (yup, I fed him dry food until I learned the hard way) was given a MASSIVE insulin overdose by an inadequately qualified veterinary staff member, with disastrous consequences.

    PLEASE don’t feed your cats dry food. And if you have a diabetic cat, please immediately begin participating in one or both of the online communities listed above, before some stupid vet kills, or nearly kills, your cat.

    The Toonces Project
    “Is Your Pet Safe at the Vet?”

  4. Stefani says:

    PS — I just want to add that while I agree with anonymous about the food thing (of course!) I don’t agree that it’s poor reporting (I think Anon didn’t really mean to imply the Itchmo reporting is bad . . . right?) What it is is poor research conclusions. I thank Emily for this article, and for including this on ITCHMO because awareness has to be raised about feline diabetes.

    It’s the veterinarians’ conclusions from the research that are “poor.” Sure, obesity and lack of exercise are contributing factors, but obesity itself is a consequence of a high carb dry food diet, especially with free feeding. And the fatter you get, the less you feel like moving . . .

    The Toonces Project
    “Is Your Pet Safe at the Vet?”

  5. Jenny Bark says:

    Anonymous & Stefani I believe you both but how do you get a cat that is around 11 yrs. to change. I won’t do raw for health reasons but I do lightly cook for her but she won’t eat most of it. She will only eat a tiny bit of chicken, turkey or ground meat & nothing else. Kitty will not even eat chicken hearts. I will not let her starve or get sick from not eating so I give her Kumpi because it is tested & she likes it. I have been trying for months so if you have any tips, please tell me. Over the years she has caught 2 mice in the house and all she did was put them in bed with me. I cannot hide food because I also have 3 dogs & believe me they will find it. Please if either of you have any tips please tell me. Thank you Jenny
    Ps I don’t mind cooking for her, I cook for my dogs. Thanks again.

  6. Stefani says:

    Jenny Bark,

    Don’t give up!

    My advice would be to start mixing the Kumpi with a low carb canned food. (see below for some ideas). Maybe just a little canned at first, gradually increase to 50%, leave it at 50% for a week or two, then remove the dry altogether.

    Consider using grain free medium-high quality canned foods that are low carb.

    Many of the diabetic cat owners rely on Fancy Feasts low carb varieties (includes turkey and giblets, savory salmon, gourmet chicken and others). Others low in carb include Natures Variety and Wellness (I used lamb and chicken). My one finicky cat really likes Merrick. Wellness and Merrick have lots of ingredients that don’t really belong in cat food (blueberry, carrot . . . go figure) but these are not as harmful as grains and the foods are still much lower carb than most available options, and definitely better than dry.

    There are many options, I am not pushing a specific food.

    You can check Janet and Binky’s charts and look for canned food that has less than 8% of its calories from carbs.

    See http://www.geocities.com/jmpeerson/canfood.html

    Also, re: raw. The salmonella fears are exaggerated. The raw food I use has been tested salmonella free, I’ve been feeding it for a few months now, no problem. It comes already supplemented. (http://www.felinespride.com)

    There are lots of options, raw is not the only one, and so you don’t HAVE to do that to get the damaging dry out of your cats diet. But I am no longer afraid of raw, I finally figured out that the people tellng horror stories about what could happen with raw were the same people who were wanting to sell me prescription Hills Science diet (namely, vets). They are SO on the payroll of Hills.

    BTW, I realize recommending ANY canned food is scary these days after the scare. Wellness and Nature’s Variety both use Menu plants. I stopped feeding them for a while out of cross contamination fears. Merrick uses its own facilities. You can also cook for your cat if you add supplements, like Call of the Wild or Platinum Performance, that have adequate calcium.

    Keep trying, don’t feel overwhelmed.

    The Toonces Project
    “Is Your Pet Safe at the Vet?”

  7. Jenny Bark says:

    Stefani THANKS a bunch. I’ll will try everything except menu food (I hate what they did to people’s babies & won’t give them any money). It’s so easy to cook for the dogs now that I have been doing it for awhile but my Kitty is a loveable pain. I needed help because I can’t seem to please her with food. We all are sending you lots of love & hugs.
    I love your web site. You are helping so many people. I’m blessed with a real good vet. I checked on her on your site. When I got in trouble with the food she was right there for me. When I told her I was home cooking for my babies she said she knew I would be & even gave me some receipes. She doesn’t recommend home cooking because she said most people don’t give their pets what they need but when asked she will tell them what to do. I never put her name on the net because of the AVMA, she will be only practicing for a few more years and doesn’t need the problems.
    THANKS again Stefani, if you ever need anything just give a shout. Love & hugs to you & yours.

  8. SMITH111 says:

    Thanks Stefani for the info regarding a high carb dry-food. Time to pick up the cat dish and double check those labels for carb content. Thanks also for the Toonces Project web address. What an eye opener! I will certainly ask more questions and keep an eye on the technicians, leaving nothing to chance.

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