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Medical History and Physical Examination Focus Based on Specific Life Stage

For new patients, a detailed history including any previous medical or surgical information is important to record, including any past or current medications or supplements.

An assessment of the cat’s current diet, including intake amount, frequency of feeding, and the manner in which the cat is fed,19 is an important part of each consultation, as is making a nutritional recommendation to continue or change the current diet.

Evaluation and recording of body weight, body condition score (BCS), and muscle condition score (MCS) are important components of the physical examination at all life stages to allow early detection of changes and identification of trends.20 Obtaining dorsal and lateral photographs of the patient is recommended to facilitate monitoring BCS/MCS as the cat ages, and can help the owner recognize subtle changes.

Diseases and conditions that require additional focus during the examination by each life stage are listed in Table 3.

Table 3: Diseases and Conditions That Require Particular Focus During Examination, by Life Stage

Diseases and conditions of relevance that require increased vigilance*

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Kitten (Birth up to 1 Year)

  • Genetic and congenital conditions
  • Infectious diseases: parasitic, viral, retroviral, feline infectious peritonitis, upper respiratory infection, enteric
  • Dermatophytosis

Young Adult (1–6 Years)

  • Feline bronchial disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Chronic enteropathy
  • FIC and urolithiasis
  • Feline atopic dermatitis (non-flea, flea allergy dermatitis, non-food allergic dermatitis)
  • Systemic fungal disease

Mature Adult (7–10 Years)

  • Chronic enteropathies (GI lymphoma, inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Neoplasia
  • Cognitive dysfunction syndrome
  • Periodontal disease and tooth resorption21,22
  • DJD: osteoarthritis and spondylosis deformans23

Senior (>10 Years)

  • Chronic enteropathies (GI lymphoma, inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Neoplasia
  • Cognitive dysfunction syndrome
  • Periodontal disease and tooth resorption21,22
  • DJD: osteoarthritis and spondylosis deformans23

*This is not intended to represent a comprehensive list.

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., CareCredit, Dechra Veterinary Products, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., Merck Animal Health, and Zoetis Petcare supported the development of the 2021 AAHA/AAFP Feline Life Stage Guidelines and resources through an educational grant to AAHA.

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