July 18, 2011 marked the beginning of a new era for the care and well-being of senior cats in the United States and around the world. During this summer’s annual American Veterinary Medical Association meeting, Dr. Heidi Lobprise, DVM, DAVCV and colleagues formed the beginning of the International Veterinary Senior Care Society (IVSCS).
A group gathered and accepted a board of directors, logo, and bylaws draft. The interested individuals are a diverse group: veterinarians and technicians, academicians and private practitioners, even industry and media representatives. The myriad issues that face senior pets reflect that same diversity in all the disciplines that need to be addressed. While most organizations are formed to look at a narrow focus of veterinary interest, senior care has to be widely inclusive, encompassing just about every aspect of veterinary care out there: anesthesia, behavior, cardiology, dentistry…a virtual alphabet of care.
An estimated 45% of pet cats in the United States are seniors. A cat is often considered senior somewhere between 7-10 years of age, but usually when it enters the upper 25% of the normal age range for its breed. Advances in breeding, veterinary science and pet food nutrition has pushed the life span of many cats well into their 20’s and some into their 30’s.
Additional reasons for the “graying” of this group include better wellness care and early diagnosis of disease states, as well as a closer bond between owners and pets that encourages better monitoring and care for four-legged family members. The result is longer life spans for pets, during which the human–companion animal bond can grow stronger.
The IVSCS has now taken its first steps and is looking forward to a steady progression of ideas and action items that will help it live up to its mission statement: to provide resources targeting the complete health care needs of senior pets to the veterinarian, their team, and clients.
Several years ago Dr. Lobprise started looking for specific continuing education talks about senior care at the large national meetings. She found some speakers and sessions, but most of the information being presented was scattered among various disciplines as a geriatric component of a larger topic. In her search for knowledge, she came to realize that there are organizations for many veterinary groups based on geography, species, and interest—including dentistry, behavior, and even wound care—but there was no community organized to support veterinary senior care. Now there is.
Need continues to recruit those with an interest for gathering and integrating information from a wide range of disciplines to provide a comprehensive resource for senior cat care.
Senior cat care can be encouraged in local clinics in a number of ways, from regular senior health exams to dietary modifications to programs for enhancing client education. Become proactive in asking your vet about senior care for your kitty. Check trusted websites such as the ASCPA and the Humane Society for information.
Congratulations to Dr. Lobprise and the new the International Veterinary Senior Care Society (IVSCS).