Cats Often Lose Homes Due to Undiscovered Health Problem

 |  Jul 23rd 2007  |   2 Contributions


Thanks to Mike for meowing in this news. Hopefully, Catsters can use this information to help prevent some cats from losing their homes and others find new homes.

And happy purrs to Hill's for supporting this research.

National Cat Behavior Survey Reveals Lack of Knowledge About a Serious Feline Health Issue

Often misunderstood 'bad behavior' presents problem for both cat and owner

TOPEKA, Kan., July 23 /PRNewswire/ -- A national survey conducted by Harris Interactive(R) revealed some startling results regarding our four-legged feline friends and their owners. The Cat Behavior Survey sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc., (manufacturer of Hill's(R) Prescription Diet(R) and Hill's(R) Science Diet(R) pet foods) attempted to discover if cat owners* really understand the number one reason why cats are being taken to the veterinarian.


One major culprit is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), a serious disorder that affects the urinary bladder or urethra of cats.

Although a recent study published in Veterinary Economics found FLUTD as the number one reason cats are presented to the veterinarian (outside of routine care)(1), the Cat Behavior Survey uncovered that less than half of cat owners (46%) would take their cats to a veterinarian for urinating outside of the litter box (inappropriate elimination) -- one of the classic warning signs of FLUTD.

Besides inappropriate elimination, additional warning signs of FLUTD --straining to urinate, urinating more frequently and/or cats crying out when urinating -- can be misinterpreted as "behavioral problems," often sending cats to shelters rather than to the veterinarian for the care they require.

Although the survey found about one out of every ten cat owners (9%) says their cat has experienced each of these symptoms, owners still aren't taking the proper action. This is important for cat owners to know because a 2006 study published in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported that from 1996 to 2004, animal shelters took in nearly 20 percent more cats and had to euthanize nearly 14 percent more cats than previously reported.(2) Inappropriate elimination is also the number one behavioral reason why cat owners relinquish their cats to animal shelters.(3) If cat owners were more educated about FLUTD, perhaps this number would decrease and owners would first seek proper treatment to improve their cats' quality of life before surrendering their pets to the shelter.

"In my practice, I see cats with FLUTD on a daily basis, proving that owners need to be educated about this condition," said Dr. Craig Prior, a veterinarian in Nashville, Tennessee. "In fact, I encourage owners to start preventive care, such as feeding a therapeutic pet food with balanced nutrition and low salt levels to preempt any signs."

The Cat Behavior Survey found a disconnect between what cat owners say they are aware of versus their actual knowledge related to FLUTD. According to the survey, about a quarter of cat owners (28%) are somewhat familiar with what FLUTD is, yet 39 percent of cat owners could not correctly identify a factor that predisposes cats to the condition. In fact, 51% of cat owners incorrectly selected diet as an influencer of FLUTD. The survey showed that although 83 percent of cat owners would take their cats to the veterinarian if their cat was experiencing trouble while urinating, about 1 in 4 cat owners who actually experienced this situation instead chose to wait and see if the behavior stopped before taking more action. Dr. Prior explains, "Once you see the first symptoms of bladder problems, cat owners should take immediate action and call their veterinarian. This way, vets can assure owners their cats aren't misbehaving and instead can work towards resolving the problem."

Arden Moore, pet expert, cat lover and author of The Cat Behavior Answer Book: Practical Insights & Solutions for Your Feline Questions, has devoted an entire chapter on cats and bladder health in her new book. "Educating cat owners about the behavioral warning signs of FLUTD can literally save lives," said Arden Moore. "Education on this topic will raise awareness of the disease and ultimately keep cats in their homes and connected to their families rather than in a shelter."

Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. aims to educate current and future cat owners about lower urinary tract disease. To prove their dedication to this cause, Hill's(R) Prescription Diet(R) is donating Care Packs to shelters across the country which operate on-site clinics or house staff veterinarians. These Care Packs contain free samples of its therapeutic cat food for bladder health, as well as other important information on FLUTD.

Through this donation, Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. is hoping that some of the cats suffering from FLUTD will find their forever homes.

About FLUTD:

    Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a term used to describe various problems affecting a cat's urinary bladder or urethra. FLUTD, if not properly treated, can have serious, even fatal, consequences.

    While FLUTD may occur in cats of any age, it is most frequently seen in middle-aged, overweight cats. The occurrence of FLUTD is the same in male and female cats, although neutered male cats are at an increased risk of urinary obstruction.

    Changing a cat's standard food to therapeutic offerings with controlled levels of nutrients can help manage the three primary urinary problems in cats: feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), struvite stones, and calcium oxalate stones.

Follow this link to read the rest of the press release.

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