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Cat handbook: “Friends for Life: Caring for Your Older Cat”

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, February 18th, 2010 at 6:19 am in Cats, Veterinarians.

friends for life

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recently published “Senior Care Guidelines” to help veterinarians deliver high-quality health care to older cats. A new handbook for cat owners — based on these guidelines — is now available to serve as a reference on everything from dental care to disease detection to end-of-life decisions.

“Friends for Life: Caring for Your Older Cat” was produced through a partnership between the AAFP and Nestlé Purina PetCare. The guidelines for senior cat care were developed to improve the level of care for cats from middle age onward — a mission driven by the fact that, while advances in veterinary medicine mean cats can live longer than ever before, proper home and veterinary care is vital to ensuring quality of life as well as length of life.

Very old cat. Photo by Flickr user Piez used under a Creative Commons License.
very old cat by Piez

While no one specific age defines a cat as “senior,” cats can be classified as “middle-aged” by the time they reach ages 7 to 10. And just as middle-aged people require more disease monitoring and adjustments in diet and exercise to stay healthy, so do their feline friends.

Don’t Dodge the Doctor’s Office
Research suggests many cat owners skimp on regular veterinary checkups for their pets. A 2007 report by the American Veterinary Medical Association indicated that 36 percent of cat-owning households in the United States did not take their cats to visit a veterinarian in 2006, compared with only 17 percent of dog-owning households forgoing veterinary care.

Neglecting professional veterinary advice can be risky because, as cats grow older, they face more complex, age-related health issues, making regular veterinary care increasingly important.

Topics covered in “Friends for Life” include:

  • What Is a “Senior” Cat?
  • Your Role as Caretaker
  • Senior Cat Wellness Visits
  • Making Veterinary Visits Easier
  • Nutrition and Weight Management
  • Proper Feeding
  • Dental Care
  • Managing Disease
  • Quality of Life
  • End-of-Life Decisions

You can download a free copy of “Friends for Life: Caring for Your Older Cat,” at

Now go give your old kitty a BIG hug! /Gary

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