The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) have jointly published two guidelines detailing how veterinarians can best implement positive, respectful interactions with feline patients and reduce stress associated with the veterinary environment.
Endorsed by more than 25 international veterinary and feline welfare organizations, the 2022 AAFP/ISFM Cat Friendly Veterinary Interaction Guidelines: Approach and Handling Techniques and the 2022 ISFM/AAFP Cat Friendly Veterinary Environment Guidelines cover all aspects of a cat’s veterinary experience, including the journey to the practice, as well as interactions with veterinary team members and the clinical environment.
The guides include practical tips related to several key areas, including:
- Implementing cat-friendly interactions and minimal handling, allowing a feline patient to have a sense of control and choice.
- Educating cat caregivers about how to reduce distress when traveling to the veterinary practice (including carrier training).
- Creating an experience that considers the animal’s natural behaviors and altering an approach to each individual cat.
- Creating an environment that considers and implements ways to reduce fear/anxiety and promotes emotions and behaviors cats find comforting.
- Ensuring the entire veterinary team understands species-specific behavior and individual differences, as well as how this affects the entire veterinary visit/experience.
- Understanding how to identify the cat’s emotional state and the subsequent behavioral response (and what to do in each situation).
“We are extremely proud of our new guidelines,” says ISFM head, Nathalie Dowgray, BVSc, MRCVS, MANZCVS (feline), PG Dip IAWEL. “They have been a lot of hard work, with large amounts of literature to review and multiple time zones to work across, but the effort has been worth it. We hope all veterinarians working with cats will take the time to read them and apply the concepts and ideas to their clinics and to how they personally interact with their feline patients.”
“We’re excited to launch these guidelines to the veterinary community,” adds AAFP CEO, Heather O’Steen, CAE. “They will enhance feline welfare, caregiver loyalty, and human safety, as well as create more positive veterinary visits for all! They will become the foundation for feline care and the veterinary experience.”
The two sets of guidelines have been published in a cat-friendly special issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (JFMS), along with a suite of supplemental resources. For more, click here.