AAFP and ISFM feline-friendly handling guidelines

J Feline Med Surg. 2011 May;13(5):364-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jfms.2011.03.012.


Background: The number of pet cats is increasing in most countries, often outnumbering pet dogs, yet cats receive less veterinary care than their canine counterparts.(1) Clients state the difficulty of getting the cat into a carrier at home, driving to the clinic, and dealing with the fearful cat at the veterinary clinic as reasons for fewer visits.(2) Educating and preparing the client and the veterinary team with regard to respectful feline handling is necessary in order to avoid stress and accomplish the goal of good health care. Without such preparation, feline stress may escalate into fear or fear-associated aggression. The resulting stress may alter results of the physical examination and laboratory tests, leading to incorrect diagnoses (eg, diabetes mellitus) and unnecessary treatments.(3-5) Without compassionate and respectful handling by the veterinary team, clients may feel the team lacks skills and compassion, or does not understand cats. Injury may occur to the cat, client and/or veterinary team.(6) Clients who want to avoid stress for their cat may avoid veterinary visits or choose another practice instead.

Goals: The use of feline-friendly handling techniques should reduce these problems. Handling is most successful when the veterinary team adapts the approach to each individual cat and situation. The goal of these guidelines is to provide useful information for handling cats that can lead to: ✜ Reduced fear and pain for the cat. ✜ Reinforced veterinarian-client-cat bond, trust and confidence, and thus better lifelong medical care for the cat. ✜ Improved efficiency, productivity and job satisfaction for the veterinary team. ✜ Increased client compliance. ✜ Timely reporting and early detection of medical and behavioral concerns. ✜ Fewer injuries to clients and the veterinary team. ✜ Reduced anxiety for the client.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Cats* / psychology
  • Fear
  • Handling, Psychological*
  • International Agencies
  • Physical Examination / veterinary*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • United States
  • Veterinary Medicine / standards*