A Feline Friendly Veterinary Practice Can Ease Anxiety For cat And Guardian

Dr. Sandy at work with Hush Puppy. Photo: Jo Singer.
Photo Credit: Jo Singer: M. Alexandra Sumerlin, DVM, The Cat Hospital of Orlando with Dr. Hush Puppy
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Kitty guardians understand that taking a cat to the vet can be very stressful. In many cases this may even cause some owners to avoid taking their cat to the vet. Additionally there are cat owners who actually believe that their kitty doesn’t need routine wellness or preventative veterinary care.

However if owners would locate use a feline-friendly practice, much can be done to help reduce the cat’s anxiety to make these all important clinic visits much easier for both the kitty and guardian. To help provide cats the most species- appropriate care, The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) created the concept of a Cat Friendly Practice (CFP).

What are the benefits of using a feline-friendly practice? By design, the environment of a feline-friendly practice is cat-friendly. Feline-friendly practices are constructed to help to ensure that the noise levels in the clinic have been reduced. There is generally a special cat- only waiting room in another area which reduces the sound and the scent of canine patients.

Exposure to other cats’ stress pheromones and the odor of litter boxes are reduced by increased air circulation. Additionally the exam rooms have been built to help the cats feel more comfortable and are devoid of easily reachable places in which they can hide.

One of the most important things that differentiate a feline- friendly practice from other veterinary clinics is that the staff have been specially picked and trained to work safely with cats. The veterinarians and the entire staff love cats and appreciate their special needs. As we all know, cats just aren’t small dogs and they need to be treated differently.

The veterinarians and the vet techs who work closely with them are more up to date in all the latest information. Feline-only veterinarians have received special training in caring for cats. They participate in continuing education courses in both cat health and many feline- vets are proficient in the art of feline nutrition, and feline vaccination protocols. Many feline only veterinarians have become more integrative in their treatment methods and are proficient in acupuncture and the use of Chinese herbal medications.

Since feline only veterinarians understand cats, they can communicate with them more effectively. They know how to handle them more humanely than the average general veterinarian. There is less “scruffing” and man-handling of fractious kitties since they use a gentler touch and are more intuitive about when a kitty is about to “lose its cool”. They can more easily nip behavioral problems in the bud. This makes the office visit far less stressful for the cat which can help make future visits less anxiety producing.

Feline-friendly veterinarians understand kitty language and can make them feel more at ease and relaxed in the examination room. In fact, the cats under their care are most likely to be able to allow being handled or they may even begin to relish a visit with a cat-friendly veterinarian who truly appreciates and loves felines.

Some cat-friendly clinics also carry a wide selection of appealing cat toys, cat trees, raw food diets and species appropriate canned food in addition to the usual pet related items generally found in traditional veterinary clinics, such as nail clippers, feline grooming tools, cat litter, litter boxes and other multi-pet related products.

Although cat-friendly practices may not be feline-only facilities, the specialized training of the veterinarians, the vet techs and the support staff makes clinic visits more welcoming, easier and less anxiety producing for felines and their devoted guardians.

What are your thoughts about a feline-friendly veterinary practice? Would you use one? Share your ideas with a comment.

8 thoughts on “A Feline Friendly Veterinary Practice Can Ease Anxiety For cat And Guardian”

  1. I went to work for a feline only practice after ummmm many years at a mixed practice. My dogs continued to go to the practice for which I worked, but my cats went to my new job. What a difference!!!!!!! My boss believes in treating cats as cats and caters to each personality. Cats will still be stressed, but since they only have cat smells to contend with, they are much better behaved. If mixed practices could designate one exam room for cats, that may help a little,or maybe a home visit, if that would be possible.

  2. After so many calamities with cats over the years, I am resigned to a feline only vet practice. The entire atmosphere is so different from entry into a waiting room full of dogs. There’s a calm feeling in a “cat only” practice. Most everything is different, starting with the way my cats are handled. There’s a gentleness and expertise that I’ve never experience in any multi-pet clinic.
    And, declawing is a dirty word there – a “wash your mouth out with soap” inquiry.
    Thanks for this article, Jo.

  3. If I was able, I would only patronize feline-only practices. As it is, our vet treats all small animals and has only one, very small, waiting room. As I don’t like being around dogs myself, I get very stressed in there, probably more so than my beloved cats! but our vet is kind, gentle, and more affordable than most in this L.A. Metro, avaricious city.

  4. I totally know this to be true* My favorite Veterinarian retired, and after he left I found another. I am civil to the new vet.; but he is clearly not gentle in his attitude or handling of my feline family members. So Sad, and for this reason I do not make an apt. unless I have to __.Eva


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