HRQL Instrument for Cats

Cats are still having the last laugh on dogs, as advances in veterinary medicine mean cats are having longer lives than ever before. Pet cats of 16, 18 and even 20 years old are no longer rarities in surgeries.

But I chose my words carefully, as cats having longer lives does not necessarily mean those animals are enjoying longer lives – or not to the full at least – since the presence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, feline diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cancer, and osteoarthritis have noticeably risen in line with longevity.

It’s a parallel with the human conundrum; that living longer when quality of life is severely compromised is at best, a mixed blessing.

Humans in the majority of cases are able to make their feelings known. In companion animals, however, the biggest challenge for vets and owners is to identify not just the symptoms of disease progression, but how the animal feels about living with a chronic condition, in order to reliably assess its health related quality of life (HRQL).

To make things worse, again like humans, ageing felines rarely suffer from the effects of one thing in isolation.

Measurement tools have existed for a while to track the progression of specific, diseases but results can be severely compromised when there is more than one comorbid disease present. In such cases, a disease specific instrument cannot separate the effects of one condition from another to determine the “wellness” of an animal, or to reliably explain behavioural changes that imply a reduction in welfare.

Vetmetrica is the only instrument that measures the emotional as well as the physical impact of disease.

Solving the conundrum of HRQL in non-verbal species has been the focus of the research team at NewMetrica for many years. We first developed a validated HRQL tool for dogs but have recently also been able to introduce a feline version which provides robust analysis of the cat’s well-being along three planes:

  • Vitality
  • Comfort
  • Emotional well-being

This has involved extensive research into behavioural markers of pain and chronic disease. Observation is quick and easy but the results yield reliable and validated information which goes well beyond identification of symptoms.

It is recognised that drugs available to treat pain in the cat are limited, with only one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) being licensed for long term use. However, in older animals, NSAIDs can have a detrimental effect on renal, hepatic, cardiovascular, or gastrointestinal conditions. In short, drug intervention can reduce one set of symptoms, only to make the cat feel much worse in the process

Reliable measurement of HRQL provides vets with the information they need to move to the promotion of a better quality of life, in the animal’s own terms.

For further information on the ease and scope of the NewMetrica cat tool, email or click HERE