Regular wellness checks vital for senior cats

When it comes to maintaining the health and wellbeing of older feline patients, regular veterinary visits are incredibly important.

This comes from the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). Building on a resource published in 2009, the group published the AAFP Senior Care Guidelines 2021, which provide veterinarians with an overview of emerging advances in feline medicine related to the aging cat.

The resource emphasizes the importance of regular veterinary visits to track and manage health-related issues as well as early detection of disease. Older cats in particular (aged 10 to 15 years) should be checked every six months (at least), while healthy cats over 15 years of age should be checked every four months. Cats with chronic health problems may need more frequent screenings depending on the severity of the condition, says AAFP.

“The emerging concept of frailty is presented in these guidelines and how practitioners can incorporate it into senior cats assessment,” said Michael Ray, DVM, working group co-chair. “They also describe common problems in aging cats, including pain management, diet and weight management, diseases and conditions, quality of life, and end-of-life decisions.”

The guide also includes a discussion of how quality of life and health-related quality of life can affect the aging cat, and emphasizes the need for veterinarians and cat owners to work together to make informed decisions for each older cat.

In addition, veterinarians are asked to consider four care budgets when developing treatment plans with clients: financial, temporal, emotional, and physical. The weight of each of these budgets varies for each cat owner, and it’s important to keep this in mind when making decision-making discussions, says AAFP.

“Veterinarians are encouraged to use the AAFP Senior Care Guidelines for Cats 2021 to improve their assessment and management of age-related diseases and to provide guidance to clients on how to join their cat’s health team,” says Hazel., Co -Chairs of Task Force Carney, DVM, MS, DABVP (dog / cat).

The updated guidelines will be published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

To access the resource, click here.