People: Lucy Davison, Brian Catchpole

Burmese cats have been identified to be at increased risk of diabetes mellitus in several geographic regions, including the UK, other European countries and Australia. This strong breed predisposition suggests that diabetes in Burmese cats is a heritable condition, but the responsible genetic mutations are yet to be identified. Furthermore, similar to human diabetes, environmental factors such as obesity, the presence of concurrent disease (e.g. dental disease, pancreatitis) and administration of certain drugs (e.g. steroids) might play a role in development of diabetes in Burmese cats as well.

At the Royal Veterinary College, we are engaged in research to identify diabetes susceptibility genes. Our plan is to use a technique called Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to investigate genetic mutations involved in diabetes in Burmese cats. To establish the contribution of environmental factors mentioned above, we are also keen to collect data about the health status of Burmese cats.

For the investigation of genetic mutations, we are keen to receive blood samples from diabetic Burmese cats. These samples can be taken at routine diabetes re-checks at the cats’ primary care veterinary practices and submitted to RVC’s Companion Animals Diabetes Register, using the sample submission form (please read the owner information sheet for further information). Cats will benefit from a free-of-charge fructosamine and blood glucose measurement, which we will report back to their practices. Only the leftover blood will be used for genetic analysis. We would be grateful if cats’ pedigrees (or at least registration numbers within their respective breeding clubs) would be submitted alongside the blood samples submissions as this would enable us to perform a pedigree analysis to identify how diabetes is inherited in Burmese cats.

Download the sample submission form here

Download the owner information sheet here

For the analysis of environmental risk factors for diabetes mentioned above, we have designed a health survey, which can be accessed via following link:

We would be most grateful to all owners of diabetic as well as non-diabetic Burmese for their participation in the survey. The information about healthy cats is invaluable for this study and will enable us to identify any health conditions or characteristics potentially associated with diabetes. We would greatly appreciate if owners would provide their cats’ pedigrees (or registration numbers) while completing the survey. This information will again be used for the pedigree analysis as mentioned above.

For any questions related to this study, please contact Katarina Hazuchova via following email address:

We are most grateful to all owners and veterinary practices which will support this research – this work would never be possible without your help!

We are also very grateful to the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ECVIM) Clinical Studies Fund for their generous support of the Whole Genome Sequencing analysis performed in this study. 


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