Feline Diabetes Risk Factors: Dry Cat Food & Cats Living Strictly Indoors

Category: Feline Diabetes, Cat Healthcare, Cat Research
Reading Time: 2 minutes
A new study shows dry food and a strictly indoor lifestyle are two risk factors for feline diabetes.


Getting a cat outside on a harness and leash can reduce the risk of feline diabetes.

Getting a cat outside on a harness and leash can reduce the risk of feline diabetes.

Here’s a good reason for making sure your cats get some outdoor time. Among the feline diabetes risk factors: dry food and living strictly indoors. This news comes from a study by a Swedish pet insurance company and published by the Winn Feline Foundation.

Using a Web-based survey, the insurance company looked at 396 diabetic cats and 1670 control cats. Among the findings: The risk of feline diabetes increases for inactive and moderately active cats who live strictly indoors.

All of the cats in the study were the same age.

The cats least likely to develop diabetes: females, cats who are not overweight, cats who have access to outdoors and cats who free feed (but not dry food). Living with a dog helps, too!

Top Feline Diabetes Risk Factors

Although veterinarians have known about some of the feline diabetes risk factors reported in the study for a long time, the look at Swedish cats provided some new information, too.
According to the study, overweight and obese cats are more prone to diabetes. We already knew that. But the connection between an all- or mostly-dry-food diet and diabetes even in cats with normal body condition had never been reported before.

Other risk factors include…
  • A strictly indoor lifestyle
  • “Greedy eaters,” as opposed to nibblers. The Winn Feline Foundation says this is also a new finding, and it could be where free feeding to lessen the risk of diabetes comes in.
  • A history of repeated steroid injections.
In reporting on the study, Winn points out that humans and cats share some diabetes risk factors. An inactive lifestyle, being overweight and greedy eating are risk factors for people, too.


Need some help reducing your cat’s risk factors? Take a look at these tips.


And check out the American Animal Hospital Associaton’s guidelines for caring for diabetic cats.


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