The cat as a model for human nutrition and disease

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Obesity is a new pandemic in humans associated with increased morbidity and mortality. A similar sharp increase has occurred in the number of obese cats in recent years. There are many reasons for this increase in both species; for cats, the main problems are unlimited access to a nutrient-dense diet and sedentary life style. Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes whose prevalence has increased concomitantly. Cats develop a form of diabetes that is similar to type 2 in humans, characterized by islet amyloid and loss of β-cell mass. The energy metabolism of cats and the pathophysiology of obesity and diabetes are being characterized in order to identify similarities and differences from humans and to recognize causative and protective factors for adverse sequelae to obesity and diabetes. RECENT FINDINGS: New approaches to the study of lipid and glucose metabolism in cats show that glucose metabolism is not as dissimilar and lipid metabolism is not as similar to that of humans as previously thought, perhaps explaining why cats do not develop the classic metabolic syndrome. SUMMARY: The cat is an excellent model for examining the pathophysiology and complications of obesity and diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-588
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adiponectin
  • Amyloid
  • Feline diabetes
  • Islet amyloid polypeptide
  • Leptin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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