Objective—To determine the items (question topics) for a subjective instrument to assess degenerative joint disease (DJD)–associated chronic pain in cats and determine the instrument design most appropriate for use by cat owners.
Animals—100 randomly selected client-owned cats from 6 months to 20 years old.
Procedures—Cats were evaluated to determine degree of radiographic DJD and signs of pain throughout the skeletal system. Two groups were identified: high DJD pain and low DJD pain. Owner-answered questions about activity and signs of pain were compared between the 2 groups to define items relating to chronic DJD pain. Interviews with 45 cat owners were performed to generate items. Fifty-three cat owners who had not been involved in any other part of the study, 19 veterinarians, and 2 statisticians assessed 6 preliminary instrument designs.
Results—22 cats were selected for each group; 19 important items were identified, resulting in 12 potential items for the instrument; and 3 additional items were identified from owner interviews. Owners and veterinarians selected a 5-point descriptive instrument design over 11-point or visual analogue scale formats.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Behaviors relating to activity were substantially different between healthy cats and cats with signs of DJD-associated pain. Fifteen items were identified as being potentially useful, and the preferred instrument design was identified. This information could be used to construct an owner-based questionnaire to assess feline DJD-associated pain. Once validated, such a questionnaire would assist in evaluating potential analgesic treatments for these patients.