Research Study Results

Prevalence of Disease and Age-Related Behavioural Changes in Cats: Past and Present


Vet. Sci. 2020, 7, 85; doi:10.3390/vetsci7030085

Lorena Sordo, Craig Breheny, Vicky Halls, Amy Cotter, Camilla Tørnqvist-Johnsen, Sarah M. A. Caney and Danièlle A. Gunn-Moore

Abstract

(1) Background: age-related changes in behaviour and health may be thought of as “normal” ageing; however, they can reflect under-diagnosed, potentially treatable, conditions. This paper describes the prevalence of age-related behavioural changes and disease in two UK cat populations at separate time-points.

(2) Methods: owners of cats aged ≥11 years completed questionnaires in 1995 (cohort 1: n = 1236), and from 2010–2015 (cohort 2: n = 883).

(3) Results: the most important behavioural changes in these cats were increased affection towards their owners (reported by 51.9% in 1995; 35.8% in 2010–2015), increased vocalisation (63.5%; 58.9%, respectively), particularly at night (32%; 43.6%), and house-soiling (29.3%; 55.8%). Most (79.4%; 81%) of the cats had visited a veterinary surgeon since becoming 11 years old. The main reasons, aside from vaccinations, were dental disease, renal disease and lower urinary tract disorders in 1995, and dental disease, renal disease and hyperthyroidism in 2010–2015. All major diagnoses were reported significantly more frequently in 2010–2015 than in 1995; behavioural changes were variably associated with these diseases.

(4) Conclusion: elderly cats display age-related behavioural changes and develop diseases that may be under-diagnosed. Veterinarians need to ask owners about these behavioural changes, as they may signify manageable conditions rather than reflect “normal” ageing.

Attitudes of small animal practitioners toward participation in veterinary clinical trials


J Am Vet Med Assoc.
 2017 Jan 1;250(1):86-97. doi: 10.2460/javma.250.1.86.

Gruen MEGriffith EHCaney SMRishniw MLascelles BD.

Author information

1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.
2 Vet Professionals, Roslin, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine attitudes of small animal practitioners toward veterinary clinical trials and variables influencing their likelihood of participating in such trials.

DESIGN Cross-sectional survey.

SAMPLE Small animal practitioners with membership in 1 of 2 online veterinary communities (n = 163 and 652).

PROCEDURES An online survey was developed for each of 2 veterinary communities, and invitations to participate were sent via email. Each survey included questions designed to collect information on the respondents' willingness to enroll their patients in clinical trials and to recommend participation to clients for their pets.

RESULTS More than 80% of respondents to each survey indicated that they spend no time in clinical research. A high proportion of respondents were likely or extremely likely to recommend clinical trial participation to clients for their pets when those trials involved treatments licensed in other countries, novel treatments, respected investigators, or sponsoring by academic institutions, among other reasons. Reasons for not recommending participation included distance, time restrictions, and lack of awareness of ongoing clinical trials; 28% of respondents indicated that they did not usually learn about such clinical trials. Most respondents (79% to 92%) rated their recommendation of a trial as important to their client's willingness to participate.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Participation in veterinary clinical trials by small animal practitioners and their clients and patients appeared low. Efforts should be increased to raise practitioner awareness of clinical trials for which patients might qualify. Specific elements of trial design were identified that could be modified to increase participation.

Survey of owner subcutaneous fluid practices in cats with chronic kidney disease

J Feline Med Surg. 2018 Oct;20(10):884-890. doi: 10.1177/1098612X17732677. Epub 2017 Sep 26.

Cooley CM1Quimby JM1Caney SM2Sieberg LG1.

Author information

1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.
2 Vet Professionals, Roslin, UK.

Objectives

The purpose of this study was to survey owners regarding their practices and experiences with the administration of subcutaneous (SC) fluids at home to cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD) to gain insight that might help more owners be successful with the procedure.

Methods

A web-based survey was advertised online. Owners of 468 cats with CKD participated, 399 of whom administered SC fluids. Results Fifty-nine percent of the cats were domestic shorthairs, with >85% of the cats being 10 years of age or older. IRIS stage 3 was most commonly represented (37%). Ninety-five percent of owners said they discussed giving fluids with their veterinarian, with only 42% of those discussions involving additional educational resources. A large majority of owners (85%) said it was either an easy, somewhat easy/no stress or okay experience for them, and a large majority (89%) reported that the experience was easy/no stress, somewhat easy or okay experience for their cats. To increase tolerance, 57% said they gave a treat to their catafterwards, and 60% said they warmed the fluids. Sixty-one percent reported using a 20 G or larger needle, with 49% saying size of needle affected tolerance. Seventy-four percent also felt that the length of time it took to administer fluids affected tolerance. One-hundred milliliters was the most commonly given fluid amount. Hydration status was monitored by 40% of owners by various methods, with 40% of those saying they skipped or added fluids based on hydration assessment. Conclusions and relevance A majority of owners gave positive feedback about their ability to learn and administer SC fluids to their cat wth CKD. Owners reported several strategies that they felt improved tolerance of fluid administration. Overall, the protocol should be tailored to the preference of the cat for best possible long-term success.

In the Eye of the Beholder: Owner Preferences for Variations in Cats' Appearances with Specific Focus on Skull Morphology.

Animals (Basel). 2018 Feb 20;8(2). pii: E30. doi: 10.3390/ani8020030.

Farnworth MJ1Packer RMA2Sordo L3Chen R4Caney SMA5Gunn-Moore DA4.

Author information

1 Rural and Environmental Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, Southwell, Nottinghamshire NG25 0QF, UK. Mark.Farnworth@NTU.ac.uk.
2 Department of Clinical Science and Services, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL9 7TA, UK. Lorena.sordo@ed.ac.uk.
3 The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH25 9RG, UK. ruoningchen@163.com.
4 The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH25 9RG, UK. Danielle.Gunn-Moore@ed.ac.uk.
5 Vet Professionals Ltd, Midlothian Innovation Centre, Pentlandfield, Roslin, Midlothian, EH25 9RE, UK. Sarah@vetprofessionals.com.

An online  survey of dietary and phosphate binder practices of owners of cats with                	    chronic  kidney disease

Changes in the popularity of cat breeds are largely driven by human perceptions of, and selection for, phenotypic traits including skull morphology. The popularity of breeds with altered skull shapes appears to be increasing, and owner preferences are an important part of this dynamic. This study sought to establish how and why a range of phenotypic attributes, including skull shape, affect preferences shown by cat owners. Two questionnaires were distributed on-line to cat owners who were asked to rate preferences for pictures of cats on a 0-10 scale. Veterinarian consensus established the skull types of the cats pictured (i.e., level of brachycephaly (BC) or dolichocephaly (DC)). Preferences were then explored relative to cat skull type, coat and eye color, and coat length. Generalized estimating equations identified relationships between physical characteristics and respondent ratings. Further sub-analyses explored effects of respondents' occupation, location and previous cat ownership on rating scores. Overall, cats with extreme changes in skull morphology (both BC and DC) were significantly less preferred than mesocephalic cats. Green eyes, ginger coat color and medium length coat were most preferred. Current owners of a BC or DC pure bred cat showed significantly greater preference for cats with similar features and significantly lower preference for the opposite extreme. Respondents from Asia were significantly more likely to prefer both BC and DC cats as compared to respondents from other locations. Finally, those in an animal care profession, as compared to other professions, provided a significantly lower preference rating for BC cats but not for DC cats. This work, despite the acknowledged limitations, provides preliminary evidence that preferences for cat breeds, and their associated skull morphologies, are driven by both cultural and experiential parameters. This information may allow for better targeting of educational materials concerning cat breeds.

Priorities on treatment and monitoring of diabetic cats from the owners' points of view

J Feline Med Surg. 2019 Jun 26:1098612X19858154. doi: 10.1177/1098612X19858154. [Epub ahead of print]

Albuquerque CS1Bauman BL2Rzeznitzeck J3Caney SM4Gunn-Moore DA1.

Author information

1 Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus, Roslin, UK.
2 Equine Medical Services, Yelm, WA, USA.
3 Lohbecker Straße 9, Bersenbrück, Germany.
4 Vet Professionals, Midlothian Innovation Centre, Roslin, UK.

An online  survey of dietary and phosphate binder practices of owners of cats with                	    chronic  kidney disease

OBJECTIVES: 

The aims of this study were to evaluate: owners' perceptions and priorities on the treatment and monitoring of feline diabetes mellitus (DM); the perceived effectiveness of the communication between veterinarians and clients regarding disease management; and the impact DM has on the owners' everyday lives and human-pet bonds.

METHODS: 

An initial questionnaire, then an adapted second questionnaire, were available to owners of cats with DM on vetprofessionals.com .

RESULTS: 

A total of 748 questionnaires were completed. At diagnosis, fewer than half of veterinarians discussed how to recognise unstable diabetes (46%) or home blood glucose monitoring (HBGM) (40%). Owners were disappointed that the importance of diet on diabetic remission/stabilisation and HBGM were not discussed. Only 49% of respondents were supervised by a veterinarian/veterinary nurse while first drawing up insulin and injecting their cat. Websites/online forums that owners found themselves were most useful when learning about their cat's diabetes (76% agreed). Over a third of cats (39%) were not fed a 'diabetic' diet but, impressively, 71% of owners used HBGM. Initial concerns about costs, boarding, the effect on their daily life and potential negative impact on the human-pet bond reduced significantly after initiating treatment (P <0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: 

Caring for a diabetic cat requires significant owner commitment, plus support by the veterinary team for the owner and their cat. It is difficult to discuss all aspects of this complex disease with the owner in a single consultation; hence, it is important to involve the entire veterinary team in owner education and provide owners with informative material (eg, useful websites, printouts). Understanding owners' priorities, fears, and which monitoring methods have helped others, is paramount to achieve owner compliance and satisfaction, and so improve the health and welfare of diabetic cats. This study provides useful information on the management of feline DM, which can be instrumental in educating future owners.

An online survey of dietary and phosphate binder practices of owners of cats with chronic kidney disease

J Feline Med Surg. 2016 Oct 17. pii: 1098612X16672999. [Epub ahead of print]
Caney SM1.

Author information:

1 Vet Professionals, Midlothian Innovation Centre, Roslin, UK. sarah@vetprofessionals.com

An online  survey of dietary and phosphate binder practices of owners of cats with                	    chronic  kidney disease

OBJECTIVES:

The objective of this study was to learn about owner experiences of chronic kidney disease (CKD), focusing on use of therapeutic renal diets (TRDs) and intestinal phosphate binders (IPBs).

METHODS:

An online survey was promoted to UK-based cat owners.

RESULTS:

In total, 859 owners participated. Most cats (n = 620; 72.18%) had two or more clinical signs at the time of their CKD diagnosis. Most common were polydipsia (n = 462; 53.78%) and weight loss (n = 426; 49.59%). In 94 cats (10.94%) CKD was only diagnosed as a result of wellness screening. In total, 371 participants (43.19%) reported that their cat's blood pressure had been measured; 100 of these (26.95% of those where blood pressure had been measured) subsequently received anti-hypertensive medication. In total, 90.80% of all participating owners had received a recommendation to feed a TRD. Five hundred and seventy-one owners (66.47%) reported that they were feeding a TRD as a component of their cat's diet. The most common reason for not feeding a TRD was that the cat did not like it (n = 123; 59.13%). Where a veterinary recommendation to feed a TRD had been received, 564 owners (72.31%) reported feeding a TRD as a component of their cat's diet vs seven owners (7.04%) who had not received a veterinary recommendation to feed a TRD. IPBs had been recommended to 321 owners (37.81%) and for 72 owners (8.38%) the recommendation came from a source other than a veterinary professional. Where used, IPBs were commonly added to a TRD (n = 136; 49.28%) and were generally accepted within 4 weeks (n = 178; 73.86%).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:

Awareness of TRDs was high but much lower for IPBs. A veterinary recommendation to feed a TRD was associated with higher compliance.

© The Author(s) 2016.

DOI: 10.1177/1098612X16672999
PMID: 27754938

Flat Feline Faces: Is Brachycephaly Associated with Respiratory Abnormalities in the Domestic Cat (Felis catus)?

PLoS One. 2016 Aug 30;11(8):e0161777. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161777.
eCollection 2016

Farnworth MJ1, Chen R2, Packer RM3, Caney SM4, Gunn-Moore DA2.

Author information:

1 School of Biological Sciences, Plymouth University, Devon, United Kingdom.
2 The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
3 Department of Clinical Science and Services, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom.
4 Vet Professionals Limited, Midlothian Innovation Centre, Pentlandfield, Roslin, Midlothian, United Kingdom.

Flat Feline Faces: Is Brachycephaly Associated with Respiratory Abnormalities in the Domestic Cat (Felis catus)?

There has been little research into brachycephalism and associated disorders in cats. A questionnaire aimed at cat owners was used to determine the relationship between feline facial conformation and owner-reported cat management requirements and respiratory abnormalities. Owner-submitted photographs of cats were used to develop novel measures of skull conformation. One thousand valid questionnaires were received. Within these there were 373 valid photographs that allowed measurement of muzzle ratio (M%) and 494 that allowed nose position ratio (NP%). The data included 239 cats for which both measurements were available. Owners reported lifestyle factors (e.g. feeding type, grooming routine, activity level), physical characteristics (e.g. hair length) and other health characteristics of their cat (e.g. tear staining, body condition score). A composite respiratory score (RS) was calculated for each cat using their owner's assessment of respiratory noise whilst their cat was asleep and then breathing difficulty following activity. Multivariate analyses were carried out using linear models to explore the relationship between RS and facial conformation, and lifestyle risk factors. The results showed that reductions in NP% and M% were significantly associated with RS (P < 0.001 and P = 0.026, respectively) and that the relationship was significantly negatively correlated (r = -0.56, P < 0.001 for both). Respiratory score was also significantly associated with increased presence of tear staining (P < 0.001) and a sedentary lifestyle (P = 0.01). This study improves current knowledge concerning cats with breeding-related alterations in skull confirmation and indicates that brachycephalism may have negative respiratory implications for cat health and welfare, as has been previously shown in dogs.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161777
PMCID: PMC5004878
PMID: 27574987

An online survey to determine owner experiences and opinions on the management of their hyperthyroid cats using oral anti-thyroid medications

J Feline Med Surg. 2013 Jun;15(6):494-502. doi: 10.1177/1098612X13485481. Epub
2013 Apr 16.

Caney SM1

Author information:

1 Cat Professional, Vet Professionals Ltd, Midlothian Innovation Centre, Pentlandfield, Roslin, UK. sarah@vetprofessionals.com

An online survey to determine owner experiences and opinions on the management of their hyperthyroid cats using oral anti-thyroid medications

Hyperthyroidism is the most common feline endocrinopathy. Treatment options comprise anti-thyroid medication, iodine-restricted diet, surgical thyroidectomy and radioiodine. One hundred and eleven owners of hyperthyroid cats completed a detailed survey asking about their experiences and views on the management of hyperthyroidism. Male cats were slightly over-represented (60 cats, 54%). Concurrent chronic kidney disease was reported in 27% of the cats. Oral anti-thyroid medication was offered to 92% of owners. The final treatment decision was usually based on the veterinarian's recommendation or joint decision-making between the owner and the veterinarian. Almost all of the cats (103, 93%) had received oral anti-thyroid medication at some point in the course of their disease. Sixty-nine cats (62%) were receiving oral anti-thyroid medication at the time of survey completion. Management of hyperthyroidism using UK veterinary-licensed oral anti-thyroid medication (Vidalta; MSD Animal Health, Felimazole; Dechra Veterinary Products) was associated with 72-75% success rates in terms of owner-assessed clinical outcome. The most important treatment priorities for owners were the prescription of the most accurate dose of medication and use of the lowest possible dose. None ranked once-daily treatment as most important to them, and 79% of owners said that they were, or would be, happy to dose their cat twice daily to control its hyperthyroidism. For 62% of owners, pilling their cat twice daily was not a problem. These results suggest that most cat owners are not a barrier to prescribing twice-daily anti-thyroid medication, if required.

DOI: 10.1177/1098612X13485481
PMID: 23591627  [Indexed for MEDLINE]