American Association of Feline Practitioners

Veterinary professionals passionate about the care of cats

The 2021 AAFP Feline Senior Care Guidelines

Understanding the Aging Cat


Senior Care Guidelines
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The 2021 AAFP Feline Senior Care Guidelines come at a time when cats continue to live longer and become an increasingly important part of the lives of their caregivers. This presentation offers veterinary professionals practical tools to honor the bond between cat and caregivers by focusing on the individual cat and their aging process and how to support decisions to ensure the best quality of life. You will learn how to conduct the exam and consultation to consider the aging cat's needs, incorporating feline-friendly handling techniques, owner communication, and testing data to explore trends and identify concerns early. The presentation will also discuss how to identify pain in the aging cat and inform an owner on the subtle signs that can indicate underlying disease.

Learning Objectives

  1. Recognize and respond to the increasing importance of senior cats in the lives of their caregivers and the professional success of a veterinary practice.
  2. Understand that integrating interactive history-taking with proactive laboratory testing and advanced technology and understanding the caregiver's emotional, physical, and economic relationship to the cat will provide the best quality of life.
  3. Learn how a caregiver can be brought into the initial assessment and follow-up appointment to pay close attention to the cat's aging process.
  4. Obtain a history highlighting key areas for the senior cat
  5. Focused examination techniques for the senior cat
  6. Understand the value of routine diagnostic testing for minimum database and health trends.
  7. Understand when ancillary tests should be considered in addition to diagnostic testing.
  8. Understand the complexity of maladaptive (chronic) pain in cats and conditions that result in long-term pain

Sponsored by:

Boehringer Ingelheim Merck Animal Health Purina Pro Plan Royal Canin IDEXX Zoetis

Speaker Bio

Beth Boynton, DVM
Dr. Beth Boynton graduated from University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine. After a decade working in private practice, she started the Community Practice service at the University’s teaching hospital seeing primary care patients with students. She taught classes in pediatrics, geriatrics, vaccinations, communication, human-animal bond, preventive behavior, interview skills, pet selection, pet loss, and practice management. She has been active in state VMA’s and national veterinary organizations.

In 2003 she joined the faculty at Western University of Health Sciences’ new College of Veterinary Medicine for clinical teaching, small animal preventive care, and problem-based learning facilitation. She subsequently had extensive training in communication and directs the veterinary communication curriculum. She is a faculty leader in interprofessional education.

Dr. Boynton is a founding leader of Primary Care Veterinary Educators since 2008 and has been a faculty liaison for the Student Chapter of AAFP since 2001.

Dr. Robertson graduated from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. She spent time as a surgery intern followed by specialized training in anesthesia and analgesia including a PhD at Bristol University (United Kingdom). She is board certified in anesthesia and in animal welfare in the USA and Europe and holds a certificate in small animal acupuncture. She has been a faculty member at the University of Saskatchewan, Michigan State University, and the University of Florida. She spent 2 years as an assistant director in the division of Animal Welfare at the American Veterinary Medical Association. In 2014 she completed her graduate certificate in Shelter Medicine at the University of Florida. In 2019 she received her certification as a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine Palliative and End-of-Life practitioner by the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine. She has published widely on the recognition and alleviation of pain in cats. Currently, she is the senior medical director of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, a large network of veterinarians dedicated to end-of-life care and in-home euthanasia throughout the USA. Dr. Robertson is also a courtesy Professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Hazel C. Carney, DVM, MS, DABVP (Feline)
As a long-time veterinary technician turned cat-only practitioner, Dr. Carney has cared for cats for over 40 years. She graduated from Colorado State University with an MS in Physiology and Biophysics and a DVM. She opened a feline exclusive practice in 1981. She and her husband reported the first cases of feline papova virus infection. She was an adjunct professor at Louisiana State University Veterinary School where in1986, she started providing radio-iodine therapy for hyperthyroid cats. For the past 27 years, she has been a feline medicine and behavior clinician at a WestVet Emergency and Specialty Center and its predecessors and has operated an I-131 treatment facility in Oregon. In 2014 the Idaho Veterinary Medical Association named her Veterinarian of the Year. Until the end of 2021, she was the Chair of the AAFP Guidelines Committee and has been a Co-chair or panelist on 7 of the Guideline publications. Besides the health care of cats, her passions are her husband of 40 years, their daughter and son-in-law, their critters, and their ranch in Idaho.

Michael Ray, DVM
Dr. Michael Ray grew up in Marietta, GA, and has always been drawn toward cats, initially because of their athletic abilities and physical skills. After playing college football and obtaining a BS in Biology with a minor in Chemistry at Georgia Southern University, Dr. Ray went to the University of Florida to study veterinary medicine and complete his DVM. Upon graduation, he completed an internship in Los Angeles, finding Southern California very hard to leave! After returning to Georgia, Dr. Ray established the Cat Clinic of Roswell, where he still practices today.

Kelly St. Denis, MSc, DVM, DABVP (Feline)
Dr. St. Denis is currently a full-time clinician at the Charing Cross Cat Clinic in Brantford, Ontario, which she opened in 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics, and a Master of Science in Immunology. In 1999, she completed her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at the Ontario Veterinary College. Dr. St. Denis has been certified with the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in the specialty of feline practice since 2013. Dr. St. Denis is a consultant for the feline medicine boards on VIN. She has been a member of the Board of Directors for the AAFP since 2017 and sits on the Advisory Council for the AAFP Cat Friendly Practice Program. Dr. St. Denis is proudly one of the 6 Canadian feline specialist members of Cat Healthy.

RACE Credits 

This program 20-897783 is approved by the AAVSB RACE to offer a total of 1.00 CE Credits (1.00 max) being available to any one veterinarian: and/or 1.00 Veterinary Technician CE Credits (1.00 max). This RACE approval is for the subject matter categorie(s) of: Medical using the delivery method(s) of: Non-Interactive Distance. This approval is valid in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB RACE; however, participants are responsible for ascertaining each board's CE requirements.