Categories: Veterinarians

A Feline Savvy Veterinarian who Knows How to Handle a Cat Appropriately is Hard to Find

Photo Credit: Jo Singer Dr. Erin Holder examines Hush Puppy

Finding a veterinary practice that is feline savvy and handles cats with patience and compassion can be difficult to say the least.

I feel extremely lucky to have found Dr. Erin Holder, a holistic practitioner who obviously loves her patients, truly understands feline nature, makes her clients feel special, and who spends just the right amount of time explaining her clinical findings and, when possible offers a range of treatment options.

During the more than ten years that we have been her clients, she has never become impatient with our cats, has never “scruffed” them if they become “antsy” and if they at times do get uncooperative, she gives them time to relax and settle down before she continues working with them.

But there are those veterinarians who become highly impatient with what might be considered a “fractious” kitty; jumping to the conclusion that the cat is angry and being aggressive rather than considering that they may be frightened and confused and learn to deal with their emotions.

Recently I ran across a video showing a vet tech handling such a cat. He growled, he hissed and seemed quite upset. But of course the work must be done and there’s no time to waste. So to save time and make it easier, they often immediately go for what I consider “heavy handed” treatment. As far as I am concerned this kind of handling only further stresses out the kitty, which can make the cat even more unwilling to be handled. In my opinion this type of handling can make a simple veterinary visit into an even more disturbing “tug of war”, resulting in the kitty becoming increasingly fractious out of fear.

Take a moment to watch the video uploaded to YouTube by On The Floor, which demonstrates the method these veterinary professionals use to handle such a cat. As I watched I wanted to throw up my hands in disgust. No wonder this cat has such a bad reputation as an angry cat, which resulted in his being fired from several practices.

In contrast, watch the following video uploaded to YouTube by Sarah Whitwell. The veterinarian and her technician handled a “fractious” cat using a totally different approach. In spite of how often the terrified cat attempted to bite and scratch the veterinarian and her assistant, they never “scruffed”1 him. They never put a muzzle on him or tried to confine him. Instead the veterinarian spoke to him softly and reassuringly, bantered lightly with the technician, but most of all, gave him the respect and compassion that he so badly needed.

But what really impressed me was the technician intelligently wore heavily padded gloves. They allowed her to to be safe yet, let the kitty “fight” with the glove to his heart’s content. The technician wasn’t injured, the cat was able to dispel some of his frightened, frustrated energy, and the examination proceeded without any major warfare breaking out. In fact, the sequel to this video shows the same cat being far more cooperative and less testy.

Cats don’t easily forget painful and frightening experiences. Once they have been handled poorly by a veterinarian, it can be hell on wheels just trying to take kitty to the vet. In order to have our cats examined thoroughly and treated appropriately, it needs to be done patiently and compassionately by a veterinarian who loves cats, understands their nature, and knows how to handle them.

Which practice do you prefer? Tell us in a comment.


1. Scruffed means to hold the cat by holding the loose skin at the back of the neck.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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