Researchers from Denmark have come a step closer to understanding type 2 diabetes by studying it in cats.
The cat is the only animal, aside from humans and primates, which spontaneously develops type 2 diabetes. Therefore, researchers have long been interested in studying how diabetes develops in cats in order to learn more about the disease in general.
This new study by a team from the University of Copenhagen—published in Scientific Reports—shows that the composition of gut bacteria in cats suffering from diabetes is different from the composition seen in healthy cats.
‘We can tell that the diversity of gut bacteria is reduced in cats with diabetes,” PhD student Ida Nordang Kieler said.
“The same has been detected in humans, and there thus appear to be more similarities in diabetes across species than previously assumed.”
In the future, the researchers hope to be able to use studies like this one to better understand and treat diabetes in cats, while perhaps at the same time enhancing our knowledge of glucose metabolism and diabetes in humans.
‘We hope that more researchers want to collaborate on studying diabetes in cats, because in some respects these studies are easier to control than studies involving humans,” Charlotte Reinhard Bjørnvad said.
“You can control the nutrition of the cats meticulously and thus remove any disturbing elements and, with fewer animals, get more stable results.”
In addition, the researchers are now trying to establish a complete library of intestinal bacteria in cats, a type of encyclopaedia for researchers studying cats. Such libraries are already available for humans and dogs. To do so they will continue to collaborate with the researchers from the Natural History Museum of Denmark.