The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) today, released the Feline Friendly Handling Guidelines, which have been endorsed by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).
The guidelines were developed by a panel of experts in feline medicine and behavior with the goal of creating a less stressful experience for feline patients while meeting their medical needs, according to a statement issued by the groups. Pet population studies from the American Veterinary Medical Association indicate that pet cats outnumber pet dogs, yet dogs visit the veterinary practice more than twice as often, according to the groups.
“These guidelines are a reminder of the unique responses that cats have to handling stress and how critical first impressions are to building lasting client relationships," says Donna Stephens Manley, DVM, guidelines committee chair.
A recent Bayer-Brakke study indicates that 58 percent of cat owners surveyed say their cats hate to go to the veterinary hospital. Many owners state that they avoid veterinary visits for their cat because of the stress of the veterinary visit, which results in compromised care for the feline patient. The stated objective of these guidelines is to make veterinary visits more comfortable and less stressful for the cat, safer for the staff and less frightening for the owners.
The new handling guidelines encourage veterinary teams to utilize a comprehensive approach in developing strategies for working with cats. Strategies need to include educating team members as well as owners. Understanding innate behaviors and adapting environmental and handling recommendations to minimize stress is a major focus of these guidelines.
The panel members are:
- Ilona Rodan, DVM, DABVP (Feline), Co-Chair;
- Eliza Sundahl, DVM, DABVP(Feline), Co-Chair;
- Hazel Carney, DVM, MS, DAVBP (Canine Feline);
- Anne-Claire Gagnon, DVM; Sarah Heath, BVSc Dip ECVBM-CA CCAB MRCVS;
- Gary Landsberg, DVM, MRCVS, DACVB, DECVBM-CA;
- Kersti Seksel, BVSc(Hons), FACVSc, DACVB, DECVBM-CA;
- Sophia Yin, DVM, MS
These guidelines may be accessed on the AAFP website.