Study Says Dry Food Doesn't Affect Cat Diabetes

Researchers say portion size is more important than whether food is canned or dry.

Posted: December 19 2007 2 a.m. EDT

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Study Says Dry Food Doesn’t Affect Cat Diabetes
A dry food diet does not affect a cat's risk for feline diabetes, according to a new study.
Whether you feed your cat dry or wet food is less important in the fight against feline diabetes than how much you serve your pet overall, according to new research from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Forty percent of all middle-aged cats are overweight. Some nutritionists have argued that the higher level of starch and carbohydrates in dry food makes dry food more likely to lead to an increased risk of diabetes than higher-protein, wet food, which more closely mimics a carnivore’s natural diet, the study noted. However, the researchers led by veterinarian Robert Backus, an assistant professor and director of the Nestle Purina Endowed Program in Small Animal Nutrition at the University of Missouri, disagreed.

A study comparing blood samples from two cat colonies (in which one was fed dry food, and the other received canned food) found “no significant difference” between the groups’ glucose-tolerance tests. A comparison of cats younger and older than 3 years old produced similar results.

“The most effective thing you can do is be the one who determines how much your cat eats,” Backus said. “We have been conditioned to fat cats, but cats should have only between 18 percent to 20 percent body fat.”

Cats eating dry food might pack on more pounds, though.
“We did find that cats on canned or wet food diets have less of a tendency toward obesity than cats on dry food diets,” Backus said.

According to Backus, male cats should weigh between 10 and 11 pounds, while female cats should weigh between 5.5 and 7.7 pounds. Obese cats are prone to other conditions, such as skin diseases, oral diseases and certain cancers, he added.

Backus’ research was presented at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Conference in Seattle.

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