Chronic pain in cats: Recent advances in clinical assessment

summary of:
Chronic pain in cats: Recent advances in clinical assessment
Author(s):
B.P. Monteiro and P.V. Steagall
Published in:
Date:
July 2019
DOI:
Type of access:

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In our edition of: Oct 2019
In our categories of: small animals

our summary:

Monteiro, B.P. and Steagall, P.V. (2019) Chronic pain in cats: Recent advances in clinical assessment Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 21 (7), pp. 601–614.

This review article considers the recent advances in the assessment of chronic pain in cats, discusses the continuing challenges and offers some thoughts on future perspectives.

The authors summarise the negative impacts of chronic pain on a cat’s quality of life and discuss the challenges around differentiating between acute and chronic pain. Information is given on the different types of pain that characterise chronic pain.  Conditions commonly associated with chronic pain are then given, with information on each.  The multiple factors that contribute to the pain related to osteoarthritis (OA) – which means that for each cat the pain profile will be different – are discussed.

Given these differing pain profiles, the assessment of chronic pain in cats with OA can be challenging. Information is given on how to assess the sensory component of pain by physical examination and observation.  The emotional aspect of pain is most often assessed by pain scoring systems, which rely on the detection of behavioural changes. Three pain scoring systems for OA based on owner assessment are described:

  • Feline Musculoskeletal Pain Index
  • Client Specific Outcome Measures
  • Montreal Instrument for Cat Arthritis Testing for Use by Caretaker.

And one for use by a veterinary surgeon:

  • Montreal Instrument for Cat Arthritis Testing for Use by Veterinarian.

Information is also provided on three partially validated, feline specific, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) questionnaires.

Suggestions for future research and development are made. These include use of activity monitors, the continuing development and validation of HRQoL instruments and continuing education on chronic pain assessment and management.

Take Home

This review article gives a valuable overview of the current understanding and challenges of chronic pain in cats. Information on useful resources for assessing the emotional aspects of pain are given. As the majority of these tools are based on owner assessment, the importance of owner participation is emphasised.  Management and treatment of chronic pain in cats is not discussed in this article.

A companion article on acute pain is also available:

Steagall, PV and Monteiro, BP (2019) Acute pain in cats: Recent advances in clinical assessment Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery21 (1), 25-34 https://doi.org/10.1177/1098612X18808103

Image copyright attribute: Colleague’s cat

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