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Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006 Sep;9(5):584-8.

The cat as a model for human nutrition and disease.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.



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 beta-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.


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.


The cat is an excellent model for examining the pathophysiology and complications of obesity and diabetes.

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