There are many reasons why cats should never eat dry food. Dry food is the equivalent of junk food for cats, it is the leading cause of most urinary tract problems, and it is responsible for the obesity problem among cats. Dry food has also been implicated as one of the contributing factors to diabetes, which is reaching epidemic proportions. 1 in 50 cats may be affected, with overweight cats being at increased risk.
A new study conducted at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences confirms that normal weight cats who consume a dry food diet are at an increased risk of diabetes mellitus.
Normal weight cats who consume a dry food diet are at an increased risk of diabetes.
Researchers used a web-based questionnaire 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.
The 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.
These findings probably don’t come as a surprise to veterinarians and cat guardians who understand the connection between diet and diabetes, but it is encouraging to finally see some solid research that supports this knowledge.
Obesity is not the only risk factor for diabetes.
“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,” 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 told Veterinary Practice News. “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.”
I’m hoping that this study will be widely published and encourage cat guardians who are not yet convinced that cats should never eat dry food to rethink the diet they feed their feline family members.
You can find the full study results here.