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To identify potential risk factors for feline litter box issues (eg, house soiling).


3,049 privately owned cats.


Data were collected using a validated, owner-completed survey with convenience sampling. The feline behavior and personality survey included 138 statements related to cat behavior and questions concerning cat background and health. Statements related to litter box issues were subjected to factor analysis. Associations between the identified factors and personality and background variables were studied using generalized linear models. Strength of these associations (ie, importance) was evaluated by calculating relative and absolute effect sizes.


Factor analysis yielded 2 factors: house soiling and litter box fussiness. This study suggests that fearful cats are more prone to both forms of litter box issues than nonfearful individuals. Other associations we found differed between factors. For example, low sociability toward cats, male sex, and being intact associated only with increased house soiling and older age only with litter box fussiness. The most important variables in the litter box models (ie, sociability toward cats, breed, and activity/playfulness) failed to reach the suggested cutoff for a small effect size.


Numerous variables are thought to influence litter box issues, but few studies have examined their relevance. Here, we studied the associations of over 30 background variables and personality traits with 2 litter box issue factors to estimate their importance at the population level. Our results bring new knowledge to this field and may contribute to finding new solutions for these complex issues in the future.

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To determine the phenotype, inheritance characteristics, and risk factors for idiopathic epilepsy (IE) in Finnish Spitz dogs (FSDs).

Design—Prospective epidemiological study.

Animals—2,141 FSDs.

Procedures—From 2003 to 2004, questionnaires (n = 5,960) were sent to all owners of 1-to 10-year-old FSDs in Finland. Phone interviews were performed 1 to 2 years later.

Results—Estimated prevalence of IE was 5.36% (111/2,069 of FSDs that were still alive). Males were predisposed to IE. The median age of onset was 3 years (range, 0.6 to 10 years). The median seizure frequency was 2 seizures/y (range, 0.5 to 48 seizures/y), and the median duration of the seizure episode was 11.75 minutes (range, 1.5 to 90 minutes). The majority (85%) of the seizures had a focal onset, and 54% were characterized as generalized secondary. A generalized seizure phase was determined to be a risk factor for development of progressive disease. Factors associated with the occurrence of a generalized phase were the age of onset, duration of the seizure, number of feeding times per day, and whether the dog was used for hunting. The seizures were not progressing in 678% of the dogs and were easily controlled by antiepileptic treatment in 78.9% of the dogs. The heritability estimate of IE in FSDs was 0.22; IE was best explained as a polygenic trait.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In the present study conducted in Finland, complex focal seizures were the most common seizure type for FSDs with IE, and a generalized seizure phase was a risk factor for progression of the disease. Results suggested a benign course of epilepsy in FSDs.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association