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Putting Out the Welcome Mat for Cats

Posted By Christine Shupe, Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Updated: Saturday, October 28, 2017

Although cats far outnumber dog as pets, cats average about 50 percent fewer veterinary visits per year. Veterinary professionals can ensure that their offices are welcoming to felines and their owners by incorporating cat friendly features into both the physical plan of the practice and the way in which care is delivered by eliminating barriers to veterinary visits and taking  steps to put the comfort and unique needs of the cat first.


Panic at the Clinic


Temperamentally, cats differ from dogs and these differences have an impact on why cat owners are less inclined to seek veterinary care. Even before the cat reaches the clinic, both owner and pet can be operating in full panic mode. Traveling to the office and setting foot in an unfamiliar environment can be alarming.  Upon arrival, stressors lurk at every turn: canines in the reception area, clumsy cat handling by staff and a noisy environment. 


But practices that are sensitive to cats and equipped to address their physical and emotional needs will not only increase veterinary visits, but ultimately improve the health and well-being of cats.


Is the Practice Purr-fectly appointed?


By focusing on these issues, clinics can create a more cat-centric environment:


1.    Support staff training and continuing education efforts that focus on feline handling techniques and special strategies for calming anxious cats. Cats and dogs are unique. Understanding and responding to these differences will equip staff to address to their needs and behaviors more effectively


2.    Take simple steps to create a physical environment that is all about the cat. Cordon off a small seating area with a bookcase or tall plants and obscure the cat’s view of the reception area where other pets congregate.


3.    Become the cat and examine the practice from a feline perspective. From reception area to the exam room, slink through the halls and take a critical view of whether the setting is inviting or off-putting to felines.


4.    Encourage at least one staff member to receive training or become knowledgeable about the complete cycle of feline life stage issues that require special care and attention. As with humans, health issues change as aging occurs.


Follow these suggestions and your practice will be the cat’s meow!


For feline-friendly practice tips and tools visit the Partners for Healthy Pets website.


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