American Association of Feline Practitioners

Veterinary professionals passionate about the care of cats

Handling Guidelines

2011 AAFP/ISFM Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines

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The Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines were developed to address the importance of providing the best possible care for cats at a time when pet population studies from the American Veterinary Medical Association indicate that pet cats well out number pet dogs, yet dogs visit the veterinary practice more than twice as often.

The recent study, Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study: Pet Visits, indicates that 58% of cat owners surveyed say that their cats hate to go to the vet.1 Many owners state that they avoid veterinary visits for their cat because of the stress of all aspects of the veterinary visit, from travel to the clinic to what happens in the actual visit itself. This results in compromised care for the feline patient. The 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 owner.

The Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines were developed by a panel of experts in feline medicine and behavior, with the goal of creating a less stressful experience for our feline patients while meeting their medical needs. These 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.

Since cats are masters at hiding their signs of illness, a cooperative effort is needed between the veterinary team and owner to reduce the stress of the veterinary visit so we can provide appropriate medical care and maximize the quality of life for our feline patients. Understanding innate behaviors and adapting environmental and handling recommendations to minimize stress is a major focus of these Guidelines.

The panel members include: Ilona Rodan, DVM, DABVP (Feline), Co-Chair; Eliza Sundahl, DVM, DABVP(Feline), Hazel Carney, DVM, MS, DAVBP (Canine Feline), Anne-Claire Gagnon, DVM, Sarah Heath, BVSc DipECVBM-CA CCAB MRCVS, Gary Landsberg, DVM, MRCVS, DACVB, DECVBM-CA, Kersti Seksel, BVSc(Hons), FACVSc, DACVB, DECVBM-CA, Sophia Yin, DVM, MS.

Additional Resources:

- Feline-friendly Handling Webinar (complimentary)
- Feline-friendly Handling Videos

1. Reference: 2011 Bayer Healthcare, L.L.C., Brakke Consulting, Care Usage Study

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*Variation within document: The CEVA website recommends to apply Feliway at least 15 minutes beforehand.