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By Dr. Suska
Published: February 06, 2012

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) is a united group of veterinarians who have a special interest in feline medicine and surgery. As such, the mission statement is as follows: “The AAFP improves the health and welfare of cats by supporting high standards of practice, continuing education, and scientific investigation.” The long-term visionary goal is: “AAFP will be the nexus for all issues related to feline medicine. Cats will receive veterinary care on a measurable level equal to exceeding that of canines.” Dr. Suska is not just a proud member of this stellar organization; she also sits on the Board of Directors.

The AAFP offers annual cat-focused continuing education (CE). Some of the more recent CE covered the topics of Behavior, Managing Complex/Multiple Diseases, Neurology and Ophthalmology, and Cardiology. AAFP also creates Guidelines to help all veterinarians improve the quality of medicine and care offered to cats. In addition, Position Statements including Management of Free-Roaming Cats, Environmental Enrichment for Indoor Cats, and Hospice Care are routinely published.

Dr. Suska was able to utilize the information learned at the Cardiology CE for one of her patients, “Misty”. Misty’s mom called us, stating that Misty’s eyes looked like they had blood in them. Suspecting this to be hypertension (high blood pressure) related, Dr. Suska requested that Misty be brought in immediately. Upon arrival and relaxation, Misty’s systolic blood pressure was taken. It was 280 mmHg (normal is 120-140, just like us humans!) Dr. Suska also noticed blood in the Anterior Chamber of the eye (the area between the cornea and the lens), as well as detached retinas. Misty was going blind! She also had some neurological abnormalities. All of these signs were attributed to the hypertension. She was immediately started on blood pressure medication, and within 24 hours her blood pressure was normal. Within 1 week, her retinas had re-attached and her neurologic abnormalities were gone! Misty is back to her normal, happy self!!

Dr. Suska and her team utilize the AAFP Behavior and Handling Guidelines on a daily basis. She was very happy to have access to the Timeline for Kitten Social Development when Mrs. A brought in a litter of 4-week old orphaned kittens. Not only was Dr. Suska able to educate Mrs. A about medical requirements, she was able to provide her with that particular time-table. Mrs. A was able to watch her kittens grow and socially develop normally, at the same times addressing physical exams, vaccines, and parasite control. This litter went on to develop the proper kitty social skills and was successfully adopted by loving owners.

Finally, the AAFP has initiated a “Cat Friendly Practice” program. Veterinary Hospitals that qualify will have to meet stringent requirements focusing on handling, medical & surgical care, and client education. More on this to follow….