Feline-friendly medicine

AAFP promotes cat-friendly practice, offers feline health information
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The American Association of Feline Practitioners is increasing its efforts to promote the concept of cat-friendly practices while increasing its offerings of continuing education and informational resources on feline health.

The AAFP also expanded the scope of its annual meeting by holding the conference in conjunction with the International Society of Feline Medicine. The first World Feline Veterinary Conference, Sept. 8-11 in Boston, attracted 484 attendees from 19 countries.

Cat-friendly practices

Last year, the AAFP and the CATalyst Council embarked on parallel initiatives to promote cat-friendly practices. The campaign aims to increase feline veterinary visits by making the experience less stressful for cats and cat owners.

The AAFP initiative is in partnership with the ISFM, formerly the European Society of Feline Medicine. The ISFM is the veterinary division of the United Kingdom's Feline Advisory Bureau, which pioneered the concept of cat-friendly practices.

cat-friendly exam
Dr. Elizabeth J. Colleran and her supervising technician, Jan Yaroslav, examine a frightened cat by using a towel for restraint rather than scruffing the patient. This photo appears in Dr. Colleran's presentations on the concept of the cat-friendly practice. (Courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth J. Colleran)

Earlier this year, the AAFP and ISFM published their Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines as a resource for veterinarians. The AAFP subsequently released a client version of the guidelines in the brochure "Getting Your Cat to the Veterinarian."

Veterinarians have welcomed the handling guidelines, which provide a foundation for the next stage in the AAFP initiative to promote cat-friendly practices, said Dr. Donna Stephens Manley, 2012 AAFP president.

"Now we're going to step them out of the exam room, that room that they're most comfortable in, and have them start taking a look at the surroundings that truthfully are what the cat sees first and the client sees first," Dr. Manley said. "If we can make these visits more positive for the cat and for the client, then the end result is improvement in the health care provided to cats."

Dr. Elizabeth J. Colleran, 2011 AAFP president, said an AAFP task force is adapting ISFM materials on cat-friendly practices for a U.S. audience. The AAFP will offer CE on cat-friendly practices at the North American Veterinary Conference, the Western Veterinary Conference, and the annual meeting of the American Animal Hospital Association next year.

In the meantime, Dr. Colleran said, the AAFP is collaborating with AAHA to offer a webinar on cat-friendly practices and a webinar on feline-friendly handling. The webinars will be available at the beginning of next year.

World conference, other activities

Cardiovascular disease was the focus of the World Feline Veterinary Conference in September.

"Many practitioners had indicated, as we did some research beforehand, that cardiac cases can be challenging in private practice," said Dr. Arne Zislin, co-chair of the meeting and 2012 AAFP treasurer. "And this was a unique opportunity to go to one meeting and capture state-of-the-art information for their clients' cats."

The conference featured an advanced track, a generalist track, and a paraprofessional track. Sessions covered topics such as blood testing as an adjunct in the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in cats, nutrition for the feline cardiac patient, and emergency management in feline heart failure.

The AAFP also will be offering CE on various subjects in feline medicine at the NAVC, WVC, and AAHA meeting and at all three CVC conventions next year.

In September, the AAFP began offering a free webinar on the AAFP Senior Care Guidelines from 2008. The course is available via VetMedTeam, an online education provider, at www.vetmedteam.com.

Another new resource from the AAFP is a position statement on "Environmental Enrichment of Indoor Cats." The statement addresses health risks to cats from a lack of stimulation and considerations for designing a plan for environmental enrichment.

Dr. Stephens Manley
Dr. Donna Stephens Manley
Dr. Smith
Dr. Roy B. Smith
Dr. Zislin
Dr. Arne Zislin
Dr. Colleran
Dr. Elizabeth J. Colleran

Guidelines, position statements, and other informational resources from the AAFP are available at its website at www.catvets.com.

During the World Feline Veterinary Conference, Dr. René A Carlson, AVMA president, installed the individuals who will take office as the AAFP officers in 2012. The full list of AAFP officers for 2012 is as follows: Drs. Donna Stephens Manley, Chapel Hill, N.C., president; Roy B. Smith, Round Rock, Texas, president-elect; Arne Zislin, Leawood, Kan., treasurer; and Elizabeth J. Colleran, Chico, Calif., immediate past president.

Dr. Carlson wrote about the conference afterward on the AVMA@Work blog. She referred to participants as "a passionate group of people about helping cats get the care they deserve."