AAFP releases new feline senior-care guidelines

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May 29, 2009
National Report - New Senior Care Guidelines will be unveiled today by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). The guidelines will address complex disease management, pre-emptive testing, nutrition and a host of other areas to help practitioners when treating senior cats.

In an exclusive interview with DVM Newsmagazine, committee chairs Ilona Rodan, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, and Jeanne Pittari, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, report the guidelines take on a host of conditions common to geriatric cats including complex disease management, testing, arthritis, kidney disease, GI disease, nutrition, wellness, behavior and hypertension.

The 22-page document was about one year in the making, Rodan explains, and offers an update to the initial set of guidelines that were co-authored and inspired by the late feline expert James R. Richards, released more than a decade ago.

"Our goal was to make as much information as we can easily available about managing older cats to help veterinarians do everything they can to help these cats," Pittari explains. "One of the things I felt very passionate about was looking beyond the minimum database. If you have an older cat with poor body condition, and your routine diagnostic tests are normal, I find that many veterinarians seem to stop there. We think you should look further for other problems that are affecting the cat that might not be so obvious on that initial database," Pittari says. "...You can make a huge impact in the cat's life." "Many of these cats," Rodan adds, "are dealing with three to four conditions. It requires managing them differently."

When senior cats present with multiple conditions, they often are euthanized - sometimes too early, Rodan explains. These guidelines were crafted to prompt veterinarians to look a little deeper with the goal of extending and improving the quality of life of senior cats.

AAFP panelists also included co-chair Joseph Taboada, Daniell Gunn-Moore, Debra Zoran, Gerard Beekman, Helen Tuzio and David Polzin. The guidelines were sponsored by Nestle Purina Pet Care, Merial, IDEXX, Nutramax Laboratories and Abbott Labs.

At press time, the guidelines will be posted at www.catvets.com. Formal publication was slated for September in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.