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Evaluation of urine marking by cats as a model for understanding veterinary diagnostic and treatment approaches and client attitudes

Laurie Bergman VMD1, Benjamin L. Hart DVM, PhD, DACVB2,3, Melissa Bain DVM, DACVB4, and Kelly Cliff DVM5
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  • 1 Behavior Service, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 2 Behavior Service, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 3 Present address is Department of Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 4 Behavior Service, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 5 Behavior Service, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

Abstract

Objective—To obtain information regarding diagnostic and treatment approaches of veterinarians and attitudes and beliefs of clients about a common clinical problem, urine marking in cats.

Design—Cohort study.

Study Population—70 veterinarians providing care for urine-marking cats and 500 owners of urine-marking cats.

Procedure—Veterinarians were interviewed via telephone regarding criteria for diagnosis of urine marking and recommended treatments. Cat owners who responded to recruitment efforts for a clinical trial for urine-marking cats were interviewed via telephone regarding whether and from what sources they sought help to resolve the marking problem.

Results—Almost a third of veterinarians did not seem to correctly distinguish between urine marking (spraying) and inappropriate urination. Those that did make this diagnostic distinction reported recommending environmental management and prescribing medication significantly more often that those that did not make this distinction. Seventy-four percent of cat owners sought help from their veterinarians for urine marking; other common sources of information were the Internet and friends. Among those who did not consult a veterinarian, the most frequently cited reason was that they did not think their veterinarian could help. Among cat owners who consulted their veterinarians, 8% reported receiving advice on environmental hygiene and 4% on environmental management (limiting intercat interactions), although veterinarians who correctly diagnosed urine marking reported giving such advice 100 and 83% of the time, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results may serve as a model for obtaining information critical to developing veterinary continuing education and public outreach programs for animal owners for various diseases. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;221:1282–1286)