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Cat Owner Attitudes About Vaccination

Habacher G, Gruffydd-Jones T, Murray J: Use of a web-based questionnaire to explore cat owners’ attitudes towards vaccination in cats, Vet Rec 167:122, 2010.

While vaccination against infectious diseases is known to be useful and effective, concern about vaccines and their safety continues to affect management decisions made by pet owners. These researchers developed a questionnaire for evaluation of cat owners’ perception of and knowledge about vaccination of cats. Owners were asked to fill out the questionnaire with only one cat in mind (i.e., separate submissions for each cat they owned). A total of 3,163 questionnaires were evaluated. Vaccination as a kitten was the strongest predictor of up-to-date vaccination status, followed closely by the intention to take the cat to a boarding cattery or cat show in the coming year. Owners who perceived the severity of infectious diseases or veterinary advice as very important were more likely to vaccinate their cats than owners who perceived these factors as less important. The owners’ perceptions of the risk and their previous experiences of side effects in a cat were not associated with a decreased likelihood of vaccination. A cat owner’s view of the severity of infectious diseases was an important factor in their decision whether to vaccinate their cat, with cat owners who considered the severity as ‘very important’ being four times more likely to report vaccination in the previous 12 months than owners who considered the severity to be less important. The more important cost was perceived to be, the less likely the cat was reported to be vaccinated. However, there was no significant difference between the household income of owners of vaccinated and unvaccinated cats. The researchers noted that owners with a strong interest in cats, as indicated by willingness to fill out the questionnaire, may have been more motivated to participate in the survey, potentially introducing a bias. Despite this, vaccination was generally recognized as important and few concerns about safety were expressed. This information might be helpful to increase awareness of cat owners’ perceptions by veterinarians and allow them to address owners’ concerns and communicate with them more effectively. [MK]

Related articles:
Lue TW, Pantenburg DP, Crawford PM: Impact of the owner-pet and client-veterinarian bond on the care that pets receive, J Am Vet Med Assoc 232:531, 2008.