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AAHA/AAFP release updated feline vaccine guidelines

dvm360dvm360 September 2020
Volume 51
Issue 9

The guidelines stress the importance of individualized vaccine recommendations based on a host of factors related to patient exposure and susceptibility risk.

cat sleeping in a catio


The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) have announced the release of the 2020 AAHA/AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines. The guidelines, which represent an update to the 2013 AAFP Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel Report, were published simultaneously in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery and the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association; they are also available online.

Authored by an expert task force and based on evidence-based recommendations and peer-reviewed literature, the guidelines divide feline vaccines into core (recommended for all cats) and noncore (recommended based on an individualized risk-benefit assessment) categories. Practitioners are encouraged to develop individualized vaccination protocols based on the patient’s exposure and susceptibility risk as defined by life stage, lifestyle, geography, and environmental and epidemiological factors.

"We no longer can simply ask a client if the cat is ‘indoors’ or ‘outdoors,’” says 2020 AAFP President Kelly St. Denis, MSc, DVM, DABVP (Feline Practice), in a press release announcing the new guidelines. “A client may not correctly interpret what they might consider brief or low-risk outdoor access, which may contain information that contributes to your risk assessment. We need to ask if the cat has free access to outdoors; do they ever sit on a patio or in a catio; do they have access to a balcony or open window; do they go anywhere outside of the home such as a friend's house or boarding facility; are they ever walked on a leash? A risk assessment of the other cats living in the home is also critical as these risks extend to all other cats in the house. By asking these questions you can better review the cat's risk for safety, nutrition, behavior, and zoonotic disease.”

The new guidelines enable veterinary teams to educate clients about why vaccination is vital for feline health and address any questions or concerns about the vaccines recommended for their pet. The guidelines offer these resources:

  • A lifestyle-based feline vaccine calculator
  • FAQs and tips for client and staff education
  • Core and noncore vaccines recommendations for pet and shelter-housed cats

A webinar summarizing the most important sections of the guidelines will be available in October. Learn more at https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/2020-aahaaafp-feline-vaccination-guidelines/feline-vaccination-home/ and at https://catvets.com/guidelines/practice-guidelines/aafp-aaha-feline-vaccination.

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