Guidelines address house soiling in cats

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The American Association of Feline Practitioners and the International Society of Feline Medicine have released the AAFP and ISFM Guidelines for Diagnosing and Solving House-Soiling Behavior in Cats, which have been endorsed by the American Animal Hospital Association.

The guidelines convey scientifically documented information, when available, and provide practical insight that reflects the accumulated clinical experiences of the authors. The document emphasizes that house soiling is not a result of spite or anger toward the owner but a result of the cat’s physical, social, or medical needs not being met. The guidelines replace the term “inappropriate urination” with the term “house soiling” because the latter implies no misconduct by the cat and thus could encourage owners to follow veterinary recommendations.

Cat near a litter boxThe document helps clinicians identify the causative factors of house soiling and includes a questionnaire for cat owners. Within the guidelines is an algorithm for the diagnosis and treatment of four basic categories of house soiling. The document offers two universal recommendations for the management of all cases of house soiling: optimizing the litter box and meeting the five pillars of feline environmental needs. The guidelines also include specific treatment suggestions for each diagnostic category, take-home instructions for cat owners, and steps for practitioners to take if a client is considering euthanasia.

“Our hope is that by using these guidelines, veterinary practices will be able to more effectively and confidently address cases of feline house soiling,” said Dr. Hazel Carney, co-chair of the panel that developed the guidelines.

“Success with these cases will improve the veterinary-client-patient relationships and overall feline welfare, while keeping cats in their homes with a good quality of life.”

The guidelines appeared in the July issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.