The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), the leading advocate for improving education and standards of feline care, announced the launch of the Cat Friendly Certificate Program for veterinary professionals. The program offers veterinarians and their staff an opportunity to earn a certificate demonstrating their feline knowledge, skills, and best in-clinic practices in caring for cats.Continue Reading
America’s cats are not getting the healthcare they deserve. 83% of cats are taken to the vet during the first year after they’re adopted, yet over half of them don’t return for subsequent wellness visit. Given that cats age more rapidly than humans and are masters at masking illness, these statistics are disturbing. National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day, which takes place on August 22, is designed to improve awareness about the importance of regular, routine check ups.Continue Reading
Dr. Gary D. Norsworthy earned his DVM degree in 1972 from Texas A&M University and has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 40 years. Dr. Norsworthy began writing professionally in 1975 and has published over 50 articles in various veterinary journals. He is an accomplished lecturer for veterinary associations around the world. He is the owner of the Alamo Feline Health Center in San Antonio, TX and loves to go to work every day.
There is no question that vaccines protect against disease – but they also present considerable risk. Sadly, far too many cats are still being over-vaccinated because too many veterinarians, and cat guardians, still think annual “shots” are necessary.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recently updated its vaccination guidelines. The guidelines divide vaccines into core and non-core vaccines, and recommended that vaccination protocols should be tailored to the individual cat’s health and lifestyle.Continue Reading
At least not in human years. Conventional wisdom used to be that cats age seven human years for every feline year. The limitations of this calculation become particularly obvious on the high and low ends of the age spectrum. With advances in veterinary care, some cats now life well into their teens and even into their twenties, which, using the old paradigm, would make a 15-year-old cat 105 years old, a 20-year-old cat 140 years! On the low end of the age spectrum, a 9-month-old kitten would be the equivalent of a 5-year-old child. If you’ve ever had a 9-month-old kitten, you know that they act much more like a teenager than a young child.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recognizes that there is a better way to classify feline life stages. Individual cats and individual body systems age at different rates, and while any type of age grouping is inevitably arbitrary, they felt that the new age designations take physical and behavioral changes that occur at different ages into account (for example, congenital defects in kittens, obesity prevention in young cats). Of course, aging is a process that is influenced by many factors, including diet, preventive care, genetics, and environment.
The following chart was developed by the AAFP’s Feline Advisory Bureau, and may give you a better indication of where on the human age spectrum your cat falls:
Why is this important? Cats need different levels of health care at different ages. The AAFP recommends a minimum of annual wellness exams for cats of all ages, with more frequent exams for seniors, geriatrics and cats with known medical conditions. I recommend bi-annual exams for cats age 7 and older. Cats are masters at hiding discomfort, and annual or bi-annual exams are the best way to detect problems early. Once a cat shows symptoms, treatment may be much more extensive, not as effective, and will also cost more.
According to this chart, Allegra and Ruby are both Juniors. Allegra is almost two in feline years, and Ruby is almost a year, which makes her fall right into the middle of the teenage years in human years. Yup – I’d say that’s an accurate assessment!
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.