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Signalment factors, comorbidity, and trends in behavior diagnoses in cats: 736 cases (1991–2001)

Michelle BambergerDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

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 MS, DVM
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Katherine A. HouptDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

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 VMD, PhD, DACVB

Abstract

Objective—To describe trends in behavior diagnoses from 1991 to 2001; assess the relationship between diagnoses and age, sex, reproductive status, and breed; and evaluate associations between diagnoses within the same cat (comorbidity).

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—736 cats.

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed for species, breed, sex, reproductive status, consultation year, birth date, and diagnoses.

Results—The caseload decreased over the course of the study. Aggression toward people increased, and spraying decreased. Cases involving Siamese cats decreased over time. Siamese cats were evaluated more often than expected in general and specifically for aggression and ingestive behavior problems, whereas Persian cats were evaluated more often than expected for elimination outside of the litter box. Domestic shorthair cats were evaluated less often than expected in general and specifically for aggression, ingestive behavior problems, and house soiling. Male cats were overrepresented. Cats with ingestive behavior problems were evaluated at a median age of 1.5 years, compared with cats with other problems (median age, 5.5 years). Certain diagnoses were clustered, with a mean of 1.2 diagnoses/cat.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that in cats, behavior problems changed over the course of the study, age and breed distributions varied among diagnoses, and certain diagnoses were likely to occur together.

Abstract

Objective—To describe trends in behavior diagnoses from 1991 to 2001; assess the relationship between diagnoses and age, sex, reproductive status, and breed; and evaluate associations between diagnoses within the same cat (comorbidity).

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—736 cats.

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed for species, breed, sex, reproductive status, consultation year, birth date, and diagnoses.

Results—The caseload decreased over the course of the study. Aggression toward people increased, and spraying decreased. Cases involving Siamese cats decreased over time. Siamese cats were evaluated more often than expected in general and specifically for aggression and ingestive behavior problems, whereas Persian cats were evaluated more often than expected for elimination outside of the litter box. Domestic shorthair cats were evaluated less often than expected in general and specifically for aggression, ingestive behavior problems, and house soiling. Male cats were overrepresented. Cats with ingestive behavior problems were evaluated at a median age of 1.5 years, compared with cats with other problems (median age, 5.5 years). Certain diagnoses were clustered, with a mean of 1.2 diagnoses/cat.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that in cats, behavior problems changed over the course of the study, age and breed distributions varied among diagnoses, and certain diagnoses were likely to occur together.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Bamberger's present address is Vet Behavior Consults, 1225 Hinging Post Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850.

The authors thank Dr. Robert Strawderman for advice on statistical analysis, Dr. Robert Oswald for advice on data entry and analysis, and Emma Williford and Doreen Turk for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Bamberger.