American Association of Feline Practitioners

Veterinary professionals passionate about the care of cats

Senior Care Guidelines

2021 AAFP Senior Care Guidelines

Download - 2021 Feline Senior Care Guidelines
Download - Client Brochure (French)
Translated - SpanishPortuguese | French
Access Client Resources -
Download - 2021 AAFP Senior Care Guidelines Press Release

Supplemental Resources:

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has released updated 2021 Feline Senior Care Guidelines to the veterinary community, which are published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The release provides a comprehensive update of the heavily referenced 2009 AAFP Senior Care Guidelines. In publishing these Guidelines, the AAFP aims to provide emerging advances in feline medicine with respect to the aging cat. The Guidelines, along with additional supplemental resources, encourage veterinary teams to have a well-rounded understanding of the changing needs of each individual senior cat. “Veterinary professionals are encouraged to use the 2021 AAFP Feline Senior Care Guidelines to enhance their assessment and treatment of age-associated medical conditions and to provide guidance to clients so they are included in their cat’s health care team,” stated Task Force Co-chair, Hazel Carney, DVM, MS, DABVP (Canine/Feline).

The Task Force provides a thorough current review in feline medicine that emphasizes each individual senior patient. The Guidelines detail specific discussions on how quality of life (QOL) and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) impacts the aging cat, and emphasizes veterinarians and cat owners partnering to make well-informed decisions for each individual senior cat. The Task Force also recognizes the impact caring for an aging cat has on the cat caregiver. Veterinarians are asked to consider four budgets of care when making treatment plans: financial, time, emotional, and physical. The weight of each of these budgets will vary for each caregiver and it is important to recognize this when having decision-making discussions. 

The Guidelines detail common issues in aging cats including pain management, nutrition and weight management, diseases and conditions, quality of life, and end of life decisions. The newly emerging concept of frailty is introduced in these Guidelines and how practitioners can incorporate this into the senior cat assessment.

The AAFP provides additional supplementary resources linked above to veterinary teams including information on Quality of Life (QOL) and Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) instruments, video demonstrations on myofascial examination techniques, and cat friendly tips for dental exams. Cat owner resources, including a new Senior Care client brochure, are available in the links above. 

The AAFP thanks Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., Merck Animal Health, Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diets, Royal Canin, and Zoetis Petcare for supporting the development of the 2021 AAFP Senior Care Guidelines and resources through educational grants to the AAFP.

The Task Force included Michael Ray DVM, Co-Chair; Hazel C. Carney, DVM, MS, DABVP (Canine/Feline), Co-Chair; Beth Boynton, DVM; Jessica Quimby, DVM, PhD, DACVIM; Sheilah Robertson, BVMS (Hons), PhD, DACVAA, DECVAA, DACAW, DECAWBM (WSEL), MRCVS; Kelly St. Denis, MSc, DVM, DABVP (Feline); Helen Tuzio, DVM, DABVP (Feline), CVA; and Bonnie Wright, DVM, DACVAA.


Download - 2009 Feline Senior Care Guidelines
Download - 2009 Senior Care Summary Document