(CAT HEALTH) Have you ever marveled at your cat’s acrobatics across the kitchen? While cats appear to prance around with ease, they may actually be hiding their pain. As a result, arthritis and osteoarthritis in cats often goes under-diagnosed. Read on to learn about the future direction of cat health. — Global Animal

Morris Animal Foundation, Kelley Weir

Have you ever watched a cat jump off a high countertop and the first thought that pops into your mind is, “Wow, that’s gotta hurt!”

And yet, the cat doesn’t seem phased at all. A cat’s ability to hide pain is almost legendary. In the wild, an animal that is ill, lame or crying out in pain is vulnerable to attack, but in a domestic setting, being stoic could affect
a cat’s quality of life because it may not get effective pain management—and that can lead to poor recovery after injury or surgery or a lack of treatment for illness.

Chronic pain—and the resulting behavioral changes—can also affect the bond between cats and their owners, which can to lead to relinquishment and unnecessary euthanasia. That is why there is more focus on developing tools to help veterinarians and owners subjectively measure pain in cats.

Building tools to gauge pain

The older the cat, the more susceptible it is to experiencing chronic pain from osteoarthritis. Traditionally, the disease has been underdiagnosed in cats because symptoms can be subtle. Using Morris Animal Foundation funding, researchers from the University of Montreal, Drs. Mary Klinck and Eric Troncy, are developing two different arthritis pain scales for cats: one designed for use by owners and another for use by veterinarians. So far, their work shows promise, and next steps for the project include laboratory trials to increase the tests’ sensitivity and make them even better at detecting pain.

At North Carolina State University, another study funded by the Foundation is also building a tool for diagnosing pain. Dr. Duncan Lascelles is developing a subjective owner-based questionnaire that could help owners and veterinarians assess how well cats are responding to treatments.

These assessment tools are currently being vetted for validity and sensitivity but could be promising to future researchers and veterinarians in reducing pain in cats.

More Morris Animal Foundation: http://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/blog/category/cat/new-tools-get-to-the-heart-of.html

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