Latest News

Australian Burmese cats at higher risk of diabetes

Research reveals Australian Burmese cats have higher diabetes risk

West Australian diabetes researchers have for the first time discovered six genes that put Australian Burmese cats at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Professor Grant Morahan from WA’s Centre for Diabetes Research, which is supported by charity Diabetes Research WA, said Australian Burmese cats were significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (T2D) than other cat breeds.

“Burmese cats in Australia are more at risk of type 2 diabetes than American Burmese cats, or other cat breeds in Australia. 

They were bred from only a few founder cats brought here in the 1960s, which by chance had more type 2 diabetes susceptibility genes than usual,” said Professor Morahan.

“Our eight-year research project investigating the genetic makeup of these cats has discovered six genes that are overrepresented in Australian Burmese cats with type 2 diabetes, and some of these genes are also involved in human diabetes.”

The discovery paves the way for vets to be able to arrange genetic testing, and work with owners to help prevent high-risk cats from developing the condition. Cat breeders can also use the information to breed low-risk cats.

Cats with type 2 diabetes tend to develop it later in their lives and experience health impacts similar to humans with the condition. Symptoms include inadequate insulin secretion and impaired insulin action, and they are more at risk of obesity and physical inactivity.

“On top of the harmful health effects, which can lead to these cats dying prematurely, it can prove costly for owners,” Professor Morahan.

“Knowing if a cat is at higher risk allows vets and owners to pay closer attention to early intervention strategies such as weight control and diet changes, and medication can also be introduced if needed but until now hasn’t often been used because of the difficulty in identifying at-risk pre-diabetic cats.

“Further, general dietary and body weight recommendations for cats aren’t always adopted by owners but may have increased uptake if owners know their cat is genetically at-risk.

“This is important as we know early diagnosis of diabetes and quick implementation of tight blood sugar control can lead to remission rates in more than 80 percent of cases, compared to 30-40 percent if tight blood sugar control is delayed.

Diabetes Research WA executive director Sherl Westlund said it was a step in the right direction for Australian Burmese cat lovers.

“Breeders may also be able to use this discovery to reduce the breed’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes which is a great advance,” she said.

More than 100 Australian Burmese cats were involved in the project, with their genetic information compared to the genetic information of 84 American Burmese cats.

The project was done in conjunction with Caroline O’Leary from the University of Queensland, Dr Morahan’s Centre for Diabetes Research colleague Dr Lois Balmer and US scientists.

Diabetes Research WA, based at Royal Perth Hospital, was established in 1976 to stimulate research into diabetes in Western Australia.

MEDIA RELEASE, 2nd November 2020

No comments

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.