A review of past research on the treatment of feline diabetes has called for human-style clinical research into the disease.
According to Dr Niessen, recommendations are often based on previous research studies that used small sample sizes, with some including as little as eight cats.
Larger sample sizes contained 50 to 60 cats, but Dr Niessen argued that even this isn’t a big enough sample size to yield effective results.
He says power calculations, a statistical test performed as part of this new publication, indicate at least 80 to 90 animals are needed to compare the effectiveness of different insulin types and other treatments.
Dr Niessen said: “The only way to improve the quality of research and its results is to design and implement well-structured clinical trials, similar to those used by pharmaceutical companies in human medicine.
“This sort of trial can have a powerful impact on a treatment and how it is used. They can more accurately gauge the pros and cons of specific diabetic treatments for cats, helping us pinpoint troublesome side effects as well as identifying the benefits.
“Current research into the condition is sporadic, lacking a long-term vision and not collaborative. A pet owner can, in theory, go to two different vets and get two very different treatments for the same condition. The owner could then go online and find a third way.
“These treatments aren’t necessarily wrong, it is just one vet may have been trained in one methodology and another in a different way. This is why a collaborative approach is so important, so we can end these inconsistencies and can get closer to the actual truth about which way best to treat our feline friends.”