ISFM has developed practice guidelines designed to facilitate high standards of feline health care. These have been produced in collaboration with the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP).
Wellness and wellbeing
The purpose of the Guidelines is to help cat professionals and cat owners to understand what consitutes a healthy feline environment. Understanding these principles and the unique environmental needs of the cat will help veterinarians, cat owners and care-givers to reduce stress, the incidence of stress-related disorders, and unwanted behavior in their feline patients and pets. The recommendations in the Guidelines apply to all pet cats, regardless of lifestyle
The purpose of the Guidelines is to help all members of the veterinary team understand the basic concepts of nursing care, both in the clinic and at home.
These Guidelines were established to provide useful information for handling cats to create a less stressful experience for feline patients while meeting their medical needs.
Management of common conditions and problem behaviour
Practical relevance: Feline hypertension is a common disease in older cats that is frequently diagnosed in association with other diseases such as chronic kidney disease and hyperthyroidism (so-called secondary hypertension), although some cases of apparent primary hypertension are also reported. The clinical consequences of hypertension can be severe, related to ‘target organ damage’ (eye, heart and vasculature, brain and kidneys), and early diagnosis followed by appropriate therapeutic management should help reduce the morbidity associated with this condition.
Clinical challenges: Despite being a common disease, routine blood pressure (BP) monitoring is generally performed infrequently, probably leading to underdiagnosis of feline hypertension in clinical practice. There is a need to: (i) ensure BP is measured as accurately as possible with a reproducible technique; (ii) identify and monitor patients at risk of developing hypertension; (iii) establish appropriate criteria for therapeutic intervention; and (iv) establish appropriate therapeutic targets. Based on current data, amlodipine besylate is the treatment of choice to manage feline hypertension and is effective in the majority of cats, but the dose needed to successfully manage hypertension varies between individuals. Some cats require long-term adjuvant therapy and, occasionally, additional therapy is necessary for emergency management of hypertensive crises.
Evidence base: These Guidelines from the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) are based on a comprehensive review of the currently available literature, and are aimed at providing practical recommendations to address the challenges of feline hypertension for veterinarians. There are many areas where more data is required which, in the future, will serve to confirm or modify some of the recommendations in these Guidelines.
The International Society of Feline Medicine has recently published a number of downloadable leaflets available in several languages covering the practical recommendations on the measurement of blood pressure in conscious cats. There are also four short videos available that accompany the recommendations and illustrate the techniques involved. To view more information on blood pressure assessment and the available resources, please click here.
Practical relevance: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in older cats. In most cats, CKD is also a progressive disease and can be accompanied by a wide range of clinical and clinicopathological changes. These ISFM Consensus Guidelines have been developed by an independent panel of clinicians and academics to provide practical advice on the diagnosis and management of this complex disease.
Clinical challenges: Although CKD is a common clinical problem in cats, the manifestations of disease vary between individuals. Thus there is a need for careful and repeat evaluation of cats with CKD and adjustment of therapy according to individual needs. In addition to addressing problems arising from CKD and improving quality of life (QoL) for the patient, therapy may also target slowing the underlying progression of disease and hence prolonging life. While maintaining QoL is of paramount importance in our patients, this can be challenging when multiple therapies are indicated. In some cases it is necessary to prioritise therapy, given an understanding of what is likely to most benefit the individual patient.
Evidence base: In preparing these Guidelines, the Panel has carefully reviewed the existing published literature, and has also graded the quality of evidence for different interventions to help to provide practical recommendations on the therapeutic options for feline CKD. This is a field of veterinary medicine that has benefited from some excellent published clinical research and further research findings will undoubtedly modify the recommendations contained in these Guidelines in the future.
Practical relevance: Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a common endocrinopathy in cats that appears to be increasing in prevalence. The prognosis for affected cats can be good when the disease is well managed, but clinical management presents challenges, both for the veterinary team and for the owner. These ISFM Guidelines have been developed by an independent, international expert panel of clinicians and academics to provide practical advice on the management of routine (uncomplicated) diabetic cats.
Clinical challenges: Although the diagnosis of diabetes is usually straightforward, optimal management can be challenging. Clinical goals should be to limit or eliminate clinical signs of the disease using a treatment regimen suitable for the owner, and to avoid insulin-induced hypoglycaemia or other complications. Optimising bodyweight, feeding an appropriate diet and using a longer acting insulin preparation (eg, protamine zinc insulin, insulin glargine or insulin detemir) are all factors that are likely to result in improved glycaemic control in the majority of cats. There is also some evidence that improved glycaemic control and reversal of glucose toxicity may promote the chances of diabetic remission. Owner considerations and owner involvement are an important aspect of management. Provided adequate support is given, and owners are able to take an active role in monitoring blood glucose concentrations in the home environment, glycaemic control may be improved. Monitoring of other parameters is also vitally important in assessing the response to insulin. Insulin adjustments should always be made cautiously and not too frequently – unless hypoglycaemia is encountered.
Evidence base: The Panel has produced these Guidelines after careful review of the existing literature and of the quality of the published studies. They represent a consensus view on practical management of cats with DM based on available clinical data and experience. However, in many areas, substantial data are lacking and there is a need for better studies in the future to help inform and refine recommendations for the clinical management of this common disease.
Rationale: These Guidelines have been developed by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) as a resource for veterinary practitioners who want to better understand and manage the important clinical condition of house-soiling in their feline patients. The Guidelines offer straightforward, practical solutions that, in most cases, will help veterinarians and cat owners prevent, manage or entirely remediate feline house-soiling behavior.
Evidence base: The Guidelines include scientifically documented information when it is available. However, because research is often lacking, some recommendations reflect the accumulated clinical experience of the authors.
(photo courtesy of Deb Givin)
The aim of these Guidelines is to provide practical information for veterinarians to encourage appropriate NSAID therapy whenever cats will benefit from the use of these drugs.
Guidelines rationale: Cats are among the most commonly kept domestic pets, and coexist with humans in a variety of different circumstances. Cats are sentient beings and, as such, humans have a responsibility for cat welfare where humans and cats coexist. Because cats reproduce efficiently, measures to control populations are frequently needed, but these should be based on ethical and humane approaches.
Framework: These consensus guidelines from the International Society of Feline Medicine’s Welfare Advisory Panel provide a framework for the approach to welfare and population control measures, primarily among unowned cats and those going through a homing programme.
For a full list of AAFP and ISFM Guidelines click here