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AAFP releases updated Feline Senior Care Guidelines

dvm360dvm360 August 2021
Volume 52

The 2021 guidelines are an update and extension to the 2009 AAFP Senior Care Guidelines and highlight topics such as veterinary visit recommendations, pain management, and beyond.

Andriy Blokhin / stock.adobe.com

Andriy Blokhin / stock.adobe.com

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recently released its updated 2021 AAFP Feline Senior Care Guidelines, which will be published in the July issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The revamped guidelines were written by Task Force experts and include emerging advances and a detailed current review of feline medicine concerning the aging cat.

“Veterinary professionals are encouraged to use the 2021 AAFP Feline Senior Care Guidelines to enhance their assessment and treatment of age-associated medical conditions and to provide guidance to clients so they are included in their cat’s health care team,” says Hazel Carney, DVM, MS, DABVP (Canine/Feline), Task Force co-chair, in an association release.

Since cats over the age of 10 are deemed ‘senior,’1 the guidelines emphasize the importance of regular veterinary visits for senior cats and recommend a minimum of every 6 months for felines 10-15 years of age; every 4 months for healthy cats over the age of 15. (For senior felines with chronic health issues, the AAFP suggests even more frequent visits, depending on the severity of their illness.)

The senior care guidelines also highlight how the quality of life (QOL) and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) affect the aging cat, the importance of cat parents collaborating with their veterinarians to make well-informed decisions, and the impact of caring for an aging cat has on the owner.

Additionally, the AAFP features additional supplementary resources including information on QQL and HRQOL instruments, video demonstrations on myofascial examination techniques, cat-friendly tips for dental examinations, and beyond.

“The newly emerging concept of frailty is introduced in these Guidelines and how practitioners can incorporate this into the senior cat assessment. They also detail common issues in aging cats including pain management, nutrition, and weight management, diseases and conditions, quality of life, and end of life decisions,” says Michael Ray, DVM, Task Force Co-chair, in the release.

Explore the Feline Senior Care Guidelines and the AAFP’s additional resources here.


  1. Quimby J, Gowland S, Carney HC, DePorter T, Plummer P, Westropp J. 2021 AAHA/AAFP Feline Life Stage Guidelines. JFMS. 2021;23:211-233. doi:10.1177/1098612X21993657
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