Factors affecting treatment decisions and satisfaction of owners of cats with cancer. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cancer in cats is being diagnosed with increasing frequency. Euthanasia or an active intervention such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery are treatment choices for the owner at diagnosis of the cat's disease. In this study, 2 interviews with cat owners, one soon after diagnosis of cancer in the cat and one 6 months later, were used to identify owner characteristics associated with a decision of euthanasia or intervention, to identify factors associated with an owner's satisfaction with euthanasia or intervention, and to evaluate inappropriate expectations of the owners who selected an intervention. The study included 89 owners from 3 referral hospitals. In logistic regression analysis, significant factors were not found that affected the owner's decision to euthanatize the cat versus intervene. Satisfaction with the decision to euthanatize the cat was associated with the ability of the cat to groom itself, eat, and play at the first interview. Among owners who selected an intervention, 4 combinations of factors were associated with being satisfied. The first combination was clinic of origin (CLIN), having a live cat at the 6-month follow-up interview (LIVE), and understanding the number of return visits required for the intervention. The second was CLIN, LIVE, and type and frequency of adverse effects from the intervention at the 6-month interview. The third was CLIN, LIVE, and feeling guilty at the 6-month interview. The fourth was CLIN, LIVE, and whether the cat had a good or excellent quality of life at the first interview. Thirty percent (21/69) of the owners tended to overestimate their cats' life expectancy. Owners also felt they had reasonably accurate estimations of adverse effects of treatment and number of return visits, but underestimated the costs required for an intervention. For owners who elect an intervention, a reminder from the veterinarian that emotional upheavals may develop even after the decision has been made is important. To provide optimal patient care and client education, veterinarians must find a middle ground between being knowledgeable, practical, and informed, and being compassionate and approachable.

published proceedings

  • J Am Vet Med Assoc

author list (cited authors)

  • Slater, M. R., Barton, C. L., Rogers, K. S., Peterson, J. L., Harris, C. K., & Wallace, K.

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Slater, MR||Barton, CL||Rogers, KS||Peterson, JL||Harris, CK||Wallace, K

publication date

  • April 1996