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Feline diabetes mellitus – the Swedish situation


Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a common endocrinopathy in cats. Feline DM is similar to human type 2 diabetes (T2D), with obesity as a major risk factor in both cats and humans. Genetics play an important role in the development of obesity and T2D in humans.


The aim was to describe the incidence of feline diabetes in Sweden, and the association with different epidemiologic risk factors.


We used data from a cohort of 504,688 cats in a Swedish insurance company from 2009 to 2013, contributing with 1,229,699 cat-years at risk (CYAR). Overall incidence rates (IR) and IRs stratified on age, breed and gender were estimated.


The IR of diabetes was twelve cases per 10,000 CYAR. Male cats had twice as high IR as females. A significant association with breed was seen, with the Burmese, Russian Blue, Norwegian Forest Cat, and Abyssinian breeds at increased risk. Also domestic cats were at higher risk compared to purebred cats. IRs of DM was highest in cats 12 to 15 years old.


Our results identified several cat breeds associated with an increased risk of DM. Also male gender and middle age were risk factors for DM. A link has been shown between obesity and DM in cats. A higher incidence of obesity has been reported in domestic cats as compared to purebreds, in male cats, and in middle-aged cats; these groups are similar to those in which we identified a higher occurrence of DM.

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Correspondence to Malin Öhlund.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Öhlund, M., Fall, T., Holst, B.S. et al. Feline diabetes mellitus – the Swedish situation. Acta Vet Scand 57, O13 (2015).

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  • Obesity
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Incidence Rate
  • Male Gender
  • Major Risk Factor