American Association of Feline Practitioners

Veterinary professionals passionate about the care of cats

General Principles of Feline Welfare

General Principles of Feline Welfare

1. Animal welfare principles are derived from moral, ethical, philosophical, and cultural considerations. In specific circumstances, animal welfare may be measured and evaluated by the scientific method. The AAFP recognizes that construction of scientific models must have inherent moral and ethical values incorporated into them, and that subjective evaluations are almost always necessary in the implementation of the scientific process.

2. The AAFP endorses the internationally recognized "Five Freedoms":

      • Freedom from hunger, thirst, and malnutrition.
      • Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort.
      • Freedom from fear and distress.
      • Freedom from pain, injury, and disease.
      • Freedom to express normal patterns of behavior as long as it does not cause injury to them or another species.

3. The AAFP endorses the internationally recognized "Three R's" applied to the use of animals in research:

      • Reduction in the number of animals.
      • Refinement of experimental methods.
      • Replacement of animals with non-animal techniques.

4. The AAFP believes that all cats should be provided the opportunity to live out their natural lifespan in accordance with the Five Freedoms.

5. A high priority should be placed on ending the destruction of cats for animal control purposes.

6. The AAFP recognizes that cats are sentient animals. This distinction requires that all diagnostic, medical, and surgical procedures must be performed in such a way as to minimize distress, anxiety, pain, and suffering. The AAFP considers this a moral and ethical imperative. If it is anticipated that any diagnostic, medical, or surgical procedure will cause pain, then appropriate and effective pain management should be initiated prior to, during, and after the procedure.

7. Physical handling of cats should be performed in such a way as to minimize distress, anxiety, pain, and suffering.

8. When necessary and appropriate, cats should be provided a benevolent and humane death.

9. It is the responsibility of veterinarians to recognize, correct, prevent, and report cruelty, abuse, and neglect of all animals.

10. The AAFP recognizes there are significant disagreements among animal welfare experts about what animal welfare is in the first place, and these disagreements are largely ethical in nature. The AAFP recognizes that these arguments are constantly changing and controversial as well.

11. The AAFP is determined to constructively cooperate with all of the relevant stakeholders in the animal welfare arena. This includes animal welfare scientists, ethicists, philosophers, veterinary professional organizations, academic and industrial institutions, animal welfare organizations, and regulatory agencies.

12. All official documents produced by the AAFP including Guidelines, Panel Reports, and Position Statements must express consistent animal welfare principles.