• Open Access

Perceptions of Quality of Life and Priorities of Owners of Cats with Heart Disease


  • This study was centered at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Presented in part at the 27th Annual American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) forum, Montreal, Canada, 2009.

Corresponding author: Dr Mark A. Oyama, DVM, DACVIM-Cardiology, Department of Clinical Studies-Philadelphia, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail: maoyama@vet.upenn.edu.


Background: Owners' perceptions and priorities regarding quality of life (QoL) are important considerations given the unknown efficacy of many commonly administered medications, stress of hospital visits, difficulties providing home care, and personal choices including euthanasia.

Objective: To describe the relative importance of quality versus quantity of life to owners of cats with heart disease.

Animals: Two hundred and thirty-nine cats with heart disease.

Methods: Prospective questionnaire-based clinical study. Cat owners completed a questionnaire to identify important parameters when assessing their cat's QoL, the relative importance of quality versus quantity of life, and willingness to trade survival time for QoL. Variables associated with these parameters were evaluated with multivariate analyses.

Results: Appetite, owner interaction, sleep patterns, and litterbox habits were deemed important to QoL. Concern over pet suffering was significantly greater than concern over life expectancy. Ninety-three percent of owners were willing to trade survival time for good QoL; 57% of these were willing to trade up to 6 months. On multivariate analysis, the only factor significantly (P= .002) associated with willingness to trade 6 months was study site. Owner concern regarding stress of administering medications at home increased with number and frequency of medications.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: These results indicated that QoL is more important to owners of cats with heart disease than longevity. The various priorities and concerns of cat owners should be taken into account in order to provide optimal care.