A national Cat Behavior Survey conducted by Harris Interactive was done to discover if cat owners really understand the number one reason why cats are being taken to the veterinarian.
One major culprit is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), a serious disorder that affects the urinary bladder or urethra of cats. Although a recent study published in Veterinary Economics found FLUTD as the number one reason cats are presented to the veterinarian (outside of routine care), the Cat Behavior Survey uncovered that less than half of cat owners (46%) would take their cats to a veterinarian for urinating outside of the litter box (inappropriate elimination) — one of the warning signs of FLUTD.
Besides inappropriate elimination, additional warning signs of FLUTD — straining to urinate, urinating more frequently and/or cats crying out when urinating — can be misinterpreted as “behavioral problems,” often sending cats to shelters rather than to the veterinarian for the care they require.
Although the survey found about one out of every ten cat owners (9%) says their cat has experienced each of these symptoms, many owners don’t know what to do when they see these symptoms.
“In my practice, I see cats with FLUTD on a daily basis, proving that owners need to be educated about this condition,” said Dr. Craig Prior, a veterinarian in Nashville, Tennessee. “In fact, I encourage owners to start preventive care, such as feeding a therapeutic pet food with balanced nutrition and low salt levels to preempt any signs.”
From a press release:
The Cat Behavior Survey found a disconnect between what cat owners say they are aware of versus their actual knowledge related to FLUTD. According to the survey, about a quarter of cat owners (28%) are somewhat familiar with what FLUTD is, yet 39 percent of cat owners could not correctly identify a factor that predisposes cats to the condition. In fact, 51% of cat owners incorrectly selected diet as an influencer of FLUTD. The survey showed that although 83 percent of cat owners would take their cats to the veterinarian if their cat was experiencing trouble while urinating, about 1 in 4 cat owners who actually experienced this situation instead chose to wait and see if the behavior stopped before taking more action.
Dr. Prior explains, “Once you see the first symptoms of bladder problems, cat owners should take immediate action and call their veterinarian. This way, vets can assure owners their cats aren’t misbehaving and instead can work towards resolving the problem.”
“Educating cat owners about the behavioral warning signs of FLUTD can literally save lives. Education on this topic will raise awareness of the disease and ultimately keep cats in their homes and connected to their families rather than in a shelter.”