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Behavior changes in cats during hospitalization

Zeiler GE, Fosgate GT, et al. Assessment of behavioural changes in domestic cats during short-term hospitalization. J Feline Med Surg. 2014; 16(6):499-503.

The authors assessed the use of a novel cat demeanor behavioral scoring system in determining responses of cats during short-term hospitalization. They believe an effective behavioral scoring system has to consider the individual temperament of the cat and also be able to monitor daily behavior during hospitalization.

For this study, they enrolled 35 healthy, client-owned cats admitted for neutering where the cats were housed in a standardized cat ward for a short-term period of 3 to 5 days. The cats were classified into one of five behavioral groups based on the scoring system (0-25): friendly and confident (0), friendly and shy (1-8), withdrawn and protective (9-18), withdrawn and aggressive (19-24), and overtly aggressive (25). The scores for demeanor were recorded once daily.

The authors noted that total demeanor scores decreased over time and a cat’s demeanor category improved. Results showed good repeatability and agreement among investigators regarding scoring. They determined the demeanor scoring system was effective in detecting a change in behavior in healthy cats undergoing short-term hospitalization (3 to 5 days). Their findings propose that healthy cats need 2 days to acclimate in this situation. Further study is required to determine if the demeanor scoring system is useful for cats presented to the hospital/clinic environment with medical or surgical needs (diseased, injured, or in pain) that undergo a hospitalization period. Additional study may better define the link between behavior and pain. They believe the demeanor scoring system will allow better understanding of pain scoring systems being used in domestic cats. (VLT)

See also:
Bennett D, Morton C. A study of owner observed behavioral and lifestyle changes in casts with musculoskeletal before and after analgesic therapy. J Feline Med Surg. 2009 Dec:11(12):997-1004.