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Pain Assessment in Cats

The importance of treating pain in cats has received more attention in recent years. There has been an inherent difficulty in identifying and quantifying the intensity of pain in cats due to the lack of available and validated pain assessment tools for this species. This could lead to veterinary practitioners providing less than adequate levels of pain relief. Reliability and validity of scoring systems are vital for use in recognizing pain, quantifying pain intensity, and evaluating treatment effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to refine and test construct validity and reliability of a composite pain scale used for assessing acute postoperative pain in 40 cats undergoing ovariohysterectomy. In a randomized, double-blind study cats received a placebo or an analgesic (tramadol, vedaprofen, or tramadol-vedaprofen combination). Respiratory rate and respiratory pattern were rejected after item analysis. Five dimensions were analyzed – F1 [psychomotor change], posture, comfort, activity, mental status, and miscellaneous behaviors; F2 [protection of wound area], reaction to palpation of the surgical wound and palpation of the abdomen and flank; F3 [physiologic variables], systolic arterial blood pressure and appetite; F4 [vocal expression of pain], vocalization; and F5 [heart rate]. Results indicated internal consistency was excellent for the overall scale and for F1, F2, and F3, very good for F4, and unacceptable for F5. Therefore, there is initial evidence of the construct validity and reliability of a multidimensional composite pain scale for use in assessing acute postoperative pain in cats undergoing ovariohysterectomy. [VT]
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