AAHA and AAFP have released updated life stage guidance for cats for the veterinary community

The co-release provides an extension of our highly revised 2010 Feline Life Stage guidelines.

[LAKEWOOD, CO; BRIDGEWATER, NJ; March 2, 2021] Two of the world’s leading veterinary organizations are proud to announce updated recommendations in the 2021 AAHA / AAFP Feline Life Stage guidelines. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Association of Cat Practitioners (AAFP) have formed a working group of experts in feline medicine to define the distinctive life stages of cats and provide a framework for individual health care plans.

Understanding a cat’s life stage and lifestyle greatly influences health care strategies. Veterinary professionals have a responsibility to emphasize the need for ongoing care for feline patients at every stage of their lives. The updated guidelines explain the evolution of cat biology and lifestyle over time, which requires different approaches to the health care of cats and older cats.

The guidelines define four life stages related to age, with the fifth stage, the end of life, occurring at any age.

The life stages of cats

  • Kitten: from birth to one year
  • Young adults: from 1 to 6 years old
  • Adult: 7 to 10 years
  • Senior: 10 years and over
  • End of life: any age

The guidelines combine a cat-friendly approach to care with a lifelong healthcare plan to improve health and well-being. Task Force Co-Chair, Jessica Kempe, DVM, Ph. Dr.. , DACVIM.

Quick reference tables are included in the instructions to help veterinary professionals develop sophisticated care plans that grow with cats as they age. “All cats at every stage of life need at least a full and comprehensive physical examination annually to receive the best lifelong care; we recommend that they have checks at least every six months for large cats,” said AAHA’s chief medical officer, Heather Lonser, DVM. “The guidelines provide discussion elements and medical history questions for all stages of life, as well as life stage contact points for physical exams, paw care, litter box management, nutrition, behavior, oral health, enrichment, and vaccinations.”

Additionally, for veterinary teams, the cat lifestyle assessment form helps collect a deeper history for each cat. This template facilitates the design of the physical examination and the identification of specific questions and discussions based on customer feedback.


Supplementary client resources that accompany the guidance include the new brochure of your own cat’s life stages, and the updated cat’s life stage chart, which are useful educational tools to prepare clients for success in managing their cat’s well-being.

The 2021 AAHA / AAFP Feline Life Stage guidelines are available online at and Cat owner resources are available at

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc. , CareCredit, Dechra Veterinary Products, and IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. Merck Animal Health and Zoetis Petcare develop guidance and resources for the 2021 AAHA / AAFP Feline Life Stage through an education grant to AAHA.

Media contact
Heather Lowencer, DVM
[email protected]http: // dx.Resonate.Deer /10.1177 /1098612X21993657

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