Leading Off: Attract cat clients with friendly handling - Veterinary Medicine
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Leading Off: Attract cat clients with friendly handling


The cat's perspective

Respectful feline handling is safer and more positive for all involved. Most of us have been taught to scruff and tightly restrain cats to prevent human injuries and zoonotic disease, as well as to limit movement in order to perform patient care. These goals must continue to be our priority. Unfortunately, this restraint has increased feline fear and fear-associated aggression, client upset, and human injury. Fortunately, understanding the cat and its behavior allows us to identify better handling that is more efficient, respectful, less stressful, and safer for the veterinary team, the client, and the cat.


I would like to thank our international group of panelists for the handling guidelines—consisting of four behavior specialists and four board-certified feline practitioners—for all their contributions and hard work to make these guidelines possible. Dr. Eliza Sundahl, co-chair, deserves special thanks for her additional help on both the guidelines and the client handout.

As a practice owner and consultant, I have seen the benefit in several practices of encouraging all members of the veterinary healthcare team to read the guidelines and work together to make a practice feline-friendly. Using both the handling guidelines and the 2010 AAFP-AAHA Feline Life Stage Guidelines allows your team to develop the solutions in your practice to enhance the value of the care you provide. In turn, we enhance the human-animal-veterinary bond and improve feline health and welfare.

Editors' note: For even more advice on caring for cats in your practice, see Dr. Tony Buffington's article on the AAFP-AAHA Feline Life Stage Guidelines on page 509.

Dr. Ilona Rodan was the co-chair of the AAFP and ISFM Feline Handling Guidelines. She is the medical director of the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wis. In 2009, she also started Feline-Friendly Consulting to help veterinary teams grow the feline portion of their practices. Dr. Rodan is a past president of the AAFP and co-chair of several AAFP guideline panels. She received the 2005 AVMA Animal Welfare Award for her work to improve feline welfare.


1. Pew Research Center. Gauging family intimacy: dogs edge cats (dads trail both): a social trends report. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center, 2006. Available at http://pewresearch.org/assets/social/pdf/Pets.pdf.

2. National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues. Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study. http://www.ncvei.org/articles/FINAL_BAYER_VETERINARY_CARE_USAGE_STUDY.pdf. Accessed 5/14/2011.

3. Rodan I, Sundahl E, Carney H, et al. AAFP and ISFM Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines. J Feline Med Surg 2011;13:364–375.


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