‘Feline Life Stage Guidelines’ help care for cats of all ages

Veterinarians have a new tool to help them deliver care to their feline patients, from young to old.

The American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners have released updated “Feline Life Stage Guidelines.” The tool was developed by a task force of experts in feline medicine with the goal of defining distinct feline life stages and providing a framework for individualized health care plans.

Understanding a cat’s life stage and lifestyle greatly affects health care strategies, and veterinary professionals have a responsibility to stress the need of ongoing care to feline patients at every stage of their lives, the AAHA and AAFP said. The updated guidelines detail the evolution of feline physiology over time, requiring different approaches to health care for kittens and senior cats.

They outline four age-related life stages, ranging from kitten to senior, with a fifth end-of-life stage occurring at any point. A quick reference table helps veterinary professionals develop evolving care plans that grow with patients as they age.

“The guidelines provide discussion items and medical history questions for all life stages, as well as life stage-specific focal points for physical examinations, claw care, litter box management, nutrition, behavior, oral health, parasite control and vaccinations,” said AAHA chief medical officer Dr. Heather Loenser.