The American Association of Feline Practitioners has completed an updated version of the Senior Care Guidelines. The guidelines will be published in the September issue of The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. They address a broad range of issues including medical, behavioral and lifestyle considerations and will help veterinarians deliver consistent high quality care for older cats. I’ll be sharing some of the highlights from these guidelines over the next weeks to help you make informed decisions about care for your own cats.
While there is no specific age at which a cat becomes a “senior” since individual animals age at different rates, the AAFP uses the following definitions: “mature or middle-aged” (7-10 years), “senior” (11-14 years), and “geriatric” (15+ years). The guidelines use the term “senior” to include all of these age groups.
The guidelines address the recommended frequency of wellness visits, the minimum database of lab values such as bloodwork and urinalysis that should be obtained at each visit, routine wellness care, nutrition and weight management, dental care, anesthesia and the special needs of the older cat, and monitoring and managing specific diseases.
The guidelines are dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jim Richards, the famed “kitty doctor” and former director of the Cornell Feline Health Center, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2007. Two of his favorite quotes were “Cats are masters at hiding illness” and “Age is not a disease.”
Look for more information on the Senior Care Guidelines in future posts.