In this survey, researchers queried cat owners about the prevalence and type of behavior problems in their cat. Owner knowledge of and attitudes toward the treatment of behavior problems were also investigated.
Of the 448 responses, 1092 behavior problems were reported. Most respondents (97.8%) reported that their cat had at least one behavior problem. The most common problems in order of prevalence were anxiety or fear (eg, of stranger, carrier, or travel), destructive behavior (eg, scratching furniture), house soiling (ie, urination and/or defecation outside the litter box), excessive vocalization, aggression toward humans and/or animals, and excessive/repetitive grooming resulting in hair loss and/or injury.
Most respondents (93.5%) believed anxiety/emotional problems could result in behavior problems in cats, but nearly half (49.8%) were unaware of the availability of psychotherapeutic medications for the treatment of behavior issues in cats. Responses to being asked if they would consider giving psychoactive medications or supplements to their cat were mixed; 57.4% replied with maybe, 21.4% with yes, and 21.2% with no. The primary reported barriers to medical treatment were concerns about negative side effects (73.3%), excessive sedation (63.9%), and potential for addiction (39.9%). Important factors respondents noted would impact their decision to medicate included proven effectiveness (89.7%), ease of administration (84.8%), veterinarian recommendation (81.5%), and cost (77%). In addition, only 3.3% of owners indicated that their veterinarian recommended they seek behavioral help for their cat. These data suggest that there are missed opportunities by veterinarians to positively affect the well-being of cats.