Survey of risk factors and frequency of clinical signs observed with feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome

J Feline Med Surg. 2022 Jun;24(6):e131-e137. doi: 10.1177/1098612X221095680. Epub 2022 May 10.


Objectives: The aims of this study were to distribute a survey to cat owners to identify common clinical signs of feline cognitive dysfunction (FCD) and to evaluate for potential risk factors.

Methods: A questionnaire was developed and adapted based on previously validated canine cognitive dysfunction questionnaires. This questionnaire was distributed to 4342 cat owners who had presented to Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital between 2015 and 2020. Cats aged ⩾8 years with signs of cognitive dysfunction and no underlying medical conditions were classified as the FCD-positive group. Cats aged ⩾8 years with no signs of cognitive dysfunction were classified as the FCD-negative control group. Chi-square or Fisher's exact tests were used to determine associations between categorical variables and a P value <0.05 was considered indicative of evidence of association.

Results: A total of 615 completed survey responses were recorded, which was a response rate of 14.2%. Among those, 80 (13%) cats were identified as the FCD-positive group and 114 (18.5%) were identified as the FCD-negative control group. The most common clinical sign in the FCD-positive group was inappropriate vocalization (32/80, 40.0%). The only variable determined to have an association with the FCD group (positive or negative), with a P value of 0.033, was the environmental setting. Cats living in a rural environment (FCD-positive or -negative) had the largest contribution to the χ2 statistic.

Conclusion and relevance: The observed number of FCD-positive cats living in a rural community was less than the expected value based on the χ2 tests. This is suggestive of an association between living in a rural environment and a reduced chance of cognitive dysfunction. There are many factors such as air pollution, social interactions and environmental enrichment that need to be studied further to determine how they relate to FCD as this could not be concluded from this study.

Keywords: Cognitive dysfunction; dementia; neurodegeneration; veterinary geriatrics.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cat Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cat Diseases* / psychology
  • Cats
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Dog Diseases*
  • Dogs
  • Hospitals, Animal
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Syndrome