The 2021 AAHA/AAFP Feline Life Stage Guidelines define four distinct age-related feline life stages: kitten (birth up to 1 year), young adult (1–6 years), mature adult (7–10 years), and senior (greater than 10 years). End of life and its precursor events are a fifth life stage that is not age specific, and are discussed in separate 2016 AAHA/IAAHPC End-of-Life Care Guidelines4 and the 2021 AAFP End of Life Online Educational Toolkit.5 Within these 2021 AAHA/AAFP Feline Life Stage Guidelines, the Task Force offers evidence-guided recommendations for eight clinical aspects of feline medicine that should be managed in relation to a cat’s life stage: behavior and environmental needs; elimination; nutrition and weight management; oral health; parasite control; vaccination; zoonoses and human safety; and diagnostics. Additionally, important topics include feline-friendly handling practices, overcoming barriers to examination visits, environmental enrichment, understanding feline behavior, practice team training, and client education. Integrating clinical management with appropriate patient handling, and practice team and client collaboration, all tailored to the cat’s life stage, forms the basis for an effective, individualized healthcare strategy that can be applied throughout the feline patient’s lifetime.
The Task Force gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Mark Dana of Scientific Communications Services, LLC, and the Kanara Consulting Group, LLC, in the preparation of the guidelines manuscript.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Hazel C. Carney has received speaking fees from Royal Canin. Jessica Quimby is a consultant/key opinion leader for Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., Dechra Veterinary Products, Elanco Animal Health, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., Kindred Biosciences, Inc., Nestlé Purina Petcare, and Royal Canin. Jodi Westropp has received speaking fees from Bayer Animal Health, Nestlé Purina Petcare, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., and Royal Canin; served as a consultant/ key opinion leader for Nestlé Purina Petcare; and served on the academic board for the International School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies. The other members of the Task Force have no conflicts of interest to declare.
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.
This work did not involve the use of animals and, therefore, ethical approval was not specifically required for this guideline.
This work did not involve the use of animals and, therefore, informed consent was not required. For any animals individually identifiable within this guideline, informed consent (either verbal or written) for their use in the publication was obtained from the people involved.
Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., CareCredit, Dechra Veterinary Products, Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc., 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