ISFM And AAFQ Issue Feline-Friendly Guidelines For Improving Patient Experience

Published on Jan 13, 2023 12:00 AM
ISFM And AAFQ Issue Feline-Friendly Guidelines For Improving Patient Experience

The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has updated two guidelines for cat-focused handling and environment in veterinary clinics.

The newly revised industry resources aim to reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in cats to increase feline visits. ISFM and the AAFP collaborated to publish guidelines outlining how veterinarians can best implement positive, respectful interactions with feline patients while reducing stress in the veterinary environment. 

The 2022 AAFP/ISFM Cat Friendly Veterinary Interaction Guidelines: Approach and Handling Techniques and the 2022 ISFM/AAFP Cat Friendly Veterinary Environment Guidelines have been endorsed by more than 25 international veterinary and feline welfare organizations.  It covers all aspects of a cat's veterinary experience, including the journey to the practice, interactions with veterinary team members, and the clinical environment.

The guides include practical advice on different topics, including:

  • Using cat-friendly interactions and minimal handling to give feline patients a sense of control and choice.
  • Educating cat owners on ways to reduce stress when bringing their cats to the veterinarian's office, like carrier training.
  • Creating an experience that considers the animal's natural behaviors and tailoring it to each cat.
  • Creating an environment that considers and implements ways to reduce fear and anxiety while encouraging emotions and behaviors that cats find comforting.
  • Assuring that the entire veterinary team is aware of species-specific behavior and individual differences, as well as how this affects the overall veterinary experience.
  • Understanding the emotional state of the cat and the resulting behavioral response (and what to do in each situation).

"We are extremely proud of our new guidelines," said Nathalie Dowgray, ISFM head.

"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," continued Nathalie Dowgray, BVSc, MRCVS, MANZCVS (feline), PG Dip IAWEL.

The AAFP CEO, Heather O'Steen, was pleased with the guidelines and believes they will benefit everyone, including cats, pet owners, and the veterinary community.
"We're excited to launch these guidelines to the veterinary community," added 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," continued Heather.