Development, initial validation and reliability testing of a web-based, generic feline health-related quality-of-life instrument

Journal of Feline Medicine and Aurgery. Noble,C., Wiseman-Orr, L., Scott,M., Nolan, A., Reid, J. (2018)

Following on from the successful development of our validated health-related quality of life (HRQL) instrument for dogs, we are delighted to add a feline HRQL instrument to our portfolio of animal pain and welfare tools.  Advances in veterinary medicine have made a considerable impact on cat health and longevity, and the prevalence of chronic disease has increased accordingly, causing behavioural changes indicative of a significant reduction in welfare and HRQL.  Vetmetrica HRQL is designed to tell clinicians, researchers and owners how a cat feels about its circumstances - its quality of life.  The above paper describes the development of Vetmetrica HRQL for cats and provides initial evidence for its validity and reliability.  This is an exciting development - firstly, because the management and assessment of chronic disease in cats is becoming increasingly important as longevity increases, and secondly, because Vetmetrica HRQL for cats offers significant advantages over the tools that currently exist.

Several disease specific instruments are available (cardiac disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic kidney disease (CKD), osteoarthritis).  However, these are clinical metrology instruments, focusing exclusively on functional changes imposed by disease, whereas the measurement of HRQL adopts a more holistic approach assessing both emotional and physical well-being.  Disease specific instruments are also limited when there are one or more comorbid conditions presenting in the cat - as is often the case, and here we require the use of the generic instrument to capture the multidimensional impact of disease on quality of life.

Additionally, recognising chronic pain and disease and providing adequate analgesia and treatment is paramount in the management of health in animals.  The effects of long- term non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on older animals can have a detrimental effect on renal, hepatic, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems.  Furthermore, the lack of suitable drugs licensed for long-term use in cats may be a result of a lack of good outcome measures.