Lisa Freeman from Tufts University and her colleagues have addressed a failing in veterinary medicine: the lack of a good quality of life assessment tool. Like humans, cats and dogs suffer from health problems. As owners prefer to base decisions on when to euthanize their pets on quality of life rather than longevity, it’s important to be able to give people guidelines as to how their pets are doing.
There is already a questionnaire for dog owners called FETCH (functional evaluation of canine health) that can help people evaluate their dog’s quality of life. However, many of the topics (such as the ability to go for walks) are irrelevant to cat owners. Therefore, a new questionnaire was developed specifically for cat owners. This one, called CATCH (cats’ assessment tool for cardiac health), is designed to help people determine the comfort level of their sick cats. I did not make up these acronyms, though I wish I had.
Although I think questionnaires like this might be of great help to people trying to decide what to do with their ailing pets, I really just liked the idea of FETCH and CATCH scores for dogs and cats. Even more intriguing, the original FETCH questionnaire upon which CATCH was based was in turn modeled on the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire designed for humans. I wonder if it offers advice on what to do if Grandpa no longer wants to chase a ball.