In its continuing desire to promote increased practice visits for cats, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has developed the Cat Friendly Practice Program to help practices reduce the stress associated with veterinary visits for cats. Details are available at catvets.com.
Have you taken steps to make your practice more feline friendly? We asked our Practitioner Board members, and here are some ways they've adopted a more cat-conducive practice. And we'd love to see what measures you've taken. Share with your colleagues at dvm360.com/felinefriendly.
Our practice did several things in response to the initiative:
Dr. Fred L. Metzger Jr.
- We joined the AAFP.
- We designated two exam rooms as cat-friendly by adding Feliway (Ceva) diffusers, softer lighting, and cat photos.
- We retrained our staff on cat-friendly handling and examinations, such as allowing extra time for cats to acclimate and remain in their carriers and doing a cat-friendly blood draw in the exam room.
Fred L. Metzger Jr., DVM, DABVP (canine and feline practice), Metzger Animal Hospital, State College, Penn.
My practice already featured soft lighting, calm music, and no interaction (either visual or auditory) between dogs and cats. These are things that both cats and dogs appreciate, but they're definitely feline-friendly.
Dr. Mili Bass
Mili Bass, DABVP (canine and feline practice), Bass Vet Consulting/Animal Acupuncture & Pain Management, Farragut, Tenn.
We've made a concerted effort to provide optimal environmental enrichment for cats that board with us or have an extended stay in the hospital. Our staff uses toys, hiding spaces, soft fabrics, pheromone sprays, social interaction, and more to provide cats an optimal environment.
Dr. Wayne Hunthausen
I've also implemented some of the techniques recommended in Dr. Sophia Yin's excellent book Low Stress: Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs & Cats (CattleDog Publishing). I think this has resulted in cats that are happier, less stressed, and more manageable.
Wayne L. Hunthausen, DVM, Animal Behavior Consultations, Westwood Animal Hospital, Westwood, Kan.
We have been using a cat-only entrance, a cat-only waiting room, and cat-only exam rooms—essentially a separate practice that shares staff and equipment. To encourage feline visits, we also send feline heartworm reminders that are nothing like our canine reminders.
Dr. Philip VanVranken
Philip VanVranken, DVM, Dickman Road Veterinary Clinic, Battle Creek, Mich.
We are now a Gold Standard certified Cat Friendly Practice. In our cat-dedicated examination room, we have a Feliway diffuser (keep the doors closed between appointments) and a digital table-top scale (no reception room weigh-ins). We use a Comfort Zone towel warmer (Magna Wave HU; looks like a hard-sided suitcase) to keep Feliway-spritzed infant receiving blankets warm.
Dr. Robin Downing
When a cat enters the examination room, it is placed on a warm, Feliway-laden baby blanket (cats prefer a warmer ambient temperature). We are simply amazed at how quiet, comfortable, and cooperative cats are when we cater to them in these small ways.
Robin Downing, DVM, Windsor Veterinary Clinic PC, Windsor, Colo.
Cat owners seek feline-only practices like mine because they think the veterinarians are more knowledgeable about feline diseases and the atmosphere is cat-friendly (we promise a "dog-free environment"). Furthermore, on the first visit, a client wants to know 1) if you love cats, and 2) if you love his or her cat. Take the AAFP's recommendations, and do not hesitate to be creative in convincing clients that you offer a cat-friendly environment and that you love cats—especially their cats.
Dr. Gary Norsworthy
Gary D. Norsworthy, DVM, DABVP (feline practice), Alamo Feline Health Center, San Antonio, Texas