American Association of Feline Practitioners

AAFP Launches Cat Friendly Certificate Program for Veterinary Professionals

cat-vet-kitten

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

National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day

take-your-cat-to-the-vet-day

August 22 has been designated as National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day, and while it may not be your cat’s favorite “holiday,” it’s an important day designed to raise awareness about the importance of regular veterinary check ups for cats.

83% of cats are taken to the vet during the first year after they’re adopted, yet over half of them never return for subsequent wellness visit. Given that cats age more rapidly than humans and are masters at masking illness, these statistics are worrisome. Continue Reading

How to Prepare for Your Cat’s Veterinary Check Up

cat-in-carrier

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

FREE Webinar: How to Find a Cat Friendly Vet

cat-friendly-vet

Next to you, your vet is probably the second-most important person in your cat’s life. Finding a vet who truly understands cats and the special challenges they present at the veterinary clinic can be a daunting process for cat parents.

I’m excited to offer you a free webinar to help you understand what goes into finding a great vet for your cats.Continue Reading

Interview with Feline Veterinarian Gary Norsworthy, DVM

Gary Norsworthy DVM

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.

I had a chance to ask Dr. Norsworthy a few questions after the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.Continue Reading

Vaccines for Cats: Risks and Benefits

Little cat at the veterinary - getting a vaccine

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

The Feline Health Care Crisis

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America’s cats are facing a healthcare crisis. The findings of a feline health study conducted by Bayer Health Care found that 52% of America’s 74 million cats are not receiving regular veterinary care. The actual number is probably much higher, since this study only captured data from cat guardians who do seek some veterinary care, not those who never take their cat to the vet. The study also showed that cat guardians are not willing to spend as much money on healthcare for their feline charges as dog guardians. Ironically, while spending on veterinary care is declining, spending on pet products is increasing steadily each year.Continue Reading

Finding a cat-friendly vet

cat vet stethoscope veterinary exam

Cats are notoriously underserved when it comes to veterinary care. The  American Association of Feline Practitioners shares the following statistics:

  • In the United States, there are 86 Million Owned Cats and 78 Million Owned Dogs.
  • Almost twice as many cats than dogs never visit the veterinarian.
  • Of the cats that do visit the veterinarian, they average 26% fewer visits than dogs.
  • 41% of cat owners visit the veterinarian only for vaccinations.
  • 39% of cat owners say they would only take their cat to the veterinarian if the cat was sick.
  • 60% of cat owners report that their cat hates going to the veterinarian.
  • 38% of cat owners report that they get stressed just thinking about bringing their cat to the practice.

These numbers are alarming, because  they support the misconception that cats don’t need the same level of care as dogs.Continue Reading

Your cat may not be as old as you think

 Bengal kitten Maine Coon Cat Zee Zoey Mia

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: 

feline life stages how old is a cat in human years

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!

Photo ©Dan Power. See more stunning cat photos like this one over at Zee & Zoey’s Chronicle Connection, nominated for a Pettie for Best Blog Design.

Lifestages table from the AAFP’s 2010 Feline Lifestages Guidelines.

Related reading:

Feline-friendly handling guidelines to make vet visits easier for cats

Minimizing stress for cats can decrease illness

How to care for your older cat