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AAFP/IAAHPC releases 2023 Feline Hospice and Palliative Care Guidelines


The guidelines emphasize addressing patient’s needs, communication in caring for cats, and empathy for cats with long-term



The American Association of Feline Practitioners and the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC) have officially released the 2023 AAFP/IAAHPC Feline Hospice and Palliative Care Guidelines.

According to an organizational release,1 the Guidelines emphasize communication, ethics, and individualized care when caring for feline hospice and palliative care patients. The Guidelines also highlight why comfort care and emotional well-being are crucial, as well as understanding the link between the cat's physical, psychological, and social needs.

“I am pleased that the AAFP and IAAHPC collaborated on these Guidelines, which underscore the importance of providing the best possible care and support for our feline companions as they approach the end of their lives,” stated Diane R. Eigner, VMD, MBA, CVPM, CHPV, CFV, task force co-chair, in the release.1 “These Guidelines emphasize the need for empathy, kindness, and understanding during this challenging time for both cats and their human caregivers.”

The Guidelines also introduce more on the concept of ‘united of care,’ an extrapolation from hospice and palliative care on the human side, and encourage team members to collaborate in order to support the cat’s caregiver and their needs.

The Guidelines focus and review on:2

  • A 5-step comprehensive care plan that creates a tailored approach to both the cat and family involved in their pet's care.
  • Establishing budget of care, a concept influenced by what can be done for the cat by establishing what is ethical, reasonable, and practical.
  • Nutrition and hydration management.
  • A discussion on communication and caregiver preferences, relationship-centered care, and guiding each caregiver through consultation.
  • And more.

“These Guidelines provide a comprehensive summary about how to approach and support the needs of both the cat and caregiver,” expressed Katrina Breitreiter, DVM, DABVP (Feline), task force co-chair.1 “This is a valuable resource to any veterinary professional that treats cats in their practice”

The Guidelines also contain several supplemental materials, including a new educational brochure for feline caregivers, video, and a questionnaire for hospice and palliative care patients. The Guidelines were created in support from an education grant the AAFP received from Royal Canin.


  1. Groundbreaking 2023 AAFP/IAAHPC Feline Hospice and Palliative Care Guidelines Release. News release. American Association of Feline Practitioners. October 3, 2023. Accessed October 12, 2023.
  2. Eigner DR, Breitreiter K, Carmack T, et al. 2023 AAFP/IAAHPC feline hospice and palliative care guidelines. J Feline Med Surg. 2023;25(9). doi:10.1177/1098612x231201683
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