Feline Patient Populations

For the purpose of creating specific, individualized vaccination recommendations based on risk of exposure, the Task Force has identified and defined the following feline populations based on their environment and lifestyle. The guidelines begin by discussing pet cats and then discuss a number of feline populations that are considered to be at relatively high risk of infectious disease exposure—namely, shelter cats, trap-neuterreturn/ trap-neuter-release cats, cattery cats, and foster cats.

Pet Cats

Pet cats include any cat kept by human beings as a source of companionship and pleasure. Pet cats are further categorized by housing status (indoor, outdoor, or indoor-outdoor cats) and number of cats in the household (single-cat or larger multi-cat). Although these distinctions are important, the most significant issue to consider regarding vaccination of pet cats is the individual cat’s exposure risk and exposure frequency to other cats and feline infectious diseases. Even indoor cats from single-cat households will inevitably be exposed to other feline infectious pathogens in situations such as a veterinary clinic visit, contact with other cats entering the premises, or exposure to contaminated fomites introduced by human contact. Client education for owners of these patients should focus on risk of exposure to other cats rather than on where the cat eats, sleeps, or spends most of its time.

For high-risk, multi-cat households, the probability of infectious disease exposure and transmission is proportionate to the number or density of cats on the premises.39 It is important to educate clients about the increased disease risks to this population of cats and to discuss increased owner responsibility to ensure appropriate preventive healthcare initiatives associated with housing many cats in a confined space.

Shelter Cats

These are cats living for indeterminate periods in centers for relinquished or lost animals.

Trap-Neuter-Return/Trap-Neuter-Release Cats

These are community or feral cats of either sex that live entirely separate from people and cannot safely be handled. Trap-neuter-release/trap-neuter- return cats may survive completely independently of humans, but some semiferal colonies receive support from individuals.

Cattery Cats

These cats are maintained in commercial facilities; for example, breeding or boarding facilities, and pet stores with a showcase model.

Foster Cats

Foster cats are kittens or adult cats temporarily housed for rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming purposes. The most important consideration in a foster cat household is ensuring that the permanent population of the household is appropriately vaccinated to provide protection from disease exposure originating with foster cats.

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., Elanco Animal Health, Merck Animal Health, and Zoetis Petcare supported the development of the
2020 AAHA/AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines and resources through an educational grant to AAHA.