As of March 2018, we were certified by the American Association of Feline Practitioners as a Cat Friendly Practice. To become certified, we had to go through a process that included a checklist of 100+ requirements, many of these were already in practice, however there were items we improved and implemented.
Some new practices that we have implemented include:
A Cat Friendly Reception Area – You will notice this on your right as you walk through the door. This area is exclusive to our feline patients so they can have a quiet place of their own. This means that no dogs will come up to them and bother them. We do not allow dogs to be in our Kitty Korner even when it’s empty to keep it free of dog scent and further reduce cats’ stress in our waiting area. The area also gets less foot traffic so our feline patients stay away from the normal commotions of a hospital.
Arrival Routine - Feline patients are put into an exam room as soon as possible upon arrival so they have a quieter space, a safe environment to explore and are allotted more time to come out of their carrier of their own accord. By allowing patients to walk out of their carrier on their own, we avoid the stress of forcing cats to do something they do not want to do. Cats are sensitive to their environments, especially when they are stuck in a cage and cannot hide from things out of their control. Often times this lack of control will cause cats stress and increase their chances of acting out.
Feliway Pheromones – We have implemented the regular use of a pheromone spray called Feliway. These pheromones are the same ones cats secrete when they are calm and happy. By spraying a towel with these and having it in the exam room with our feline patients, we find they are calmer for their exams.
Feline Handling - Being Cat Friendly Certified not only improves on the aspects our clients notice easily like new waiting areas, cute towels sprayed with happy cat pheromone, but also updates all clinic staff on appropriate handling of cats. Our veterinary team is very good at reading cat body language; any cats that seem timid, scared, anxious or fractious will be handled in a stress free manner. It is not appropriate to scruff and hold down a cat while they scream like they are being killed. (In their minds, they likely are being killed). Instead scared or unfriendly cats should be given sedation to relax them, so in the future they will recall a more pleasant clinic visit. These are soft skills that may not be immediately noticeable, but our goal is to get our feline patients comfortable in the clinic.
The main benefit of cats enjoying their clinic visits is being able to provide regular preventative care for them. Lots of cat disease and illness could be prevented or made better by regular annual physicals. For example: Obesity if not under control, could cause diabetes, arthritis, constipation, heart disease etc. Dental disease could lead to further damage of internal organs by seeding them with bacteria through the blood stream. Regular vaccination could prevent feline leukemia virus, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis, panleukopenia and rabies. Kidney disease and hyperthyroidism is easily diagnosed with routine senior blood work for cats 8 years or older.
Even though it is a lot of work to implement the above and sometimes inconvenient, we believe the health of our feline patients is well worth the effort. The end goal is to provide the same high quality preventative care to our felines as our canines. We want our feline patients to enjoy being in the clinic and we’re taking a big step towards this when we provide a cat friendly environment.
Check out the Cat Friendly website for some feline-focused tips and articles!