The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has released updated 2021 Feline Senior Care Guidelines for veterinary health professionals, as well as updated resources for cat owners.

While the full guidelines are designed to help veterinary practitioners care for senior cats, the AAFP has also created client information materials for cat owners.

What are the most important things to monitor in your senior cat?  Here’s a quick overview:

  • Signs of pain, especially in the joints
  • Changes in drinking, eating, and litterbox behaviors
  • Lack of appetite and weight and muscle loss
  • Poor coat condition and decreased grooming

  • Changes in sleeping patterns and other behaviors
  • Abnormal sores, bleeding, or discharge
  • Labored breathing and difficulty with eliminating

Many older cats will also have decreased senses of taste, smell, sight, and hearing.

The AAFP recommends regular wellness visits for older cats.  Your vet will assess your cat’s physical condition and take blood and urine samples to check for certain health problems.  She will also ask you about how your cat is behaving at home.

Just like all older pets, the time may come when you and your vet need to talk about quality-of-life issues for your senior cat.

Common quality of life considerations for your cat include:

  • Pain
  • Chronic disease
  • Impaired mobility
  • Cognitive decline
  • Distress/anxiety

You and your vet can also discuss the quality-of-life and financial issues associated with treating a senior cat with multiple diseases.  As with humans, end of life care for cats can include forms of palliative and hospice care.

Be sure to check out the AAFP’s Senior Care Guidelines webpage to find more helpful information for veterinary practitioners and cat owners.


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