Our Feline Friendly Practice
By Dr. Longridge
Pet cats outnumber pet dogs in North America by a long shot, yet cats make far fewer trips to the veterinarian in their lifetime. It is not because they are inherently healthier than dogs; it is not because their owners don’t care about their wellbeing. And it is not because their owners lent out the cage to someone and never got it back. The main reason that so many cats do not get the veterinary attention they need is that the entire process of getting a cat to and from the veterinary clinic (and everything in between – the waiting room, exam room, doctor, testing, treatment, etc) can be very stressful for the cat and, therefore, the owner.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Thanks to years of dedicated work from a number of behaviourists and feline specialist practitioners, we now have a much better understanding of how the feline mind work and how best to reduce stress in a variety of situations, including the veterinary visit.
Our veterinary team at Clappison Animal Hospital is here to help make your feline’s experience as pleasant as possible. Staff members have had additional training in feline handling, and are ready to advise you on stress-reducing steps to implement, even before you leave home. Upon arrival, we will do our best to transfer you and your cat into a quiet room as soon as possible. If the room is not immediately available, then you can securely park your cat-carrier in the “CAT SAFE STATION” behind our reception desk, far away from even the tallest of probing dog noses. If you haven’t already brought a towel to cover over your carrier, then we can provide one upon arrival.
Our cat-friendly exam room is specially designed to both calm and entertain our feline patients. Shelves have been built in order to provide elevated perches. Cats enjoy sitting on the exam table in our cat-friendly room and watching the traffic go by outside. This room also has little to no dog traffic, so there is minimal doggy smell to worry the feline senses. In addition, we use a pheromone diffuser (an invisible mist) called Feliway in the cat room. Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone that is used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure. By mimicking the cat’s natural facial pheromones, Feliway helps create a state of familiarity and security in the cat’s local environment. Our doctors and technicians will ensure that handling is carried out in a calm and careful manner, to avoid escalation of stress and aggression. We will work with you and your cat to find out which approach works best for your feline as it’s never a ‘one size fits all’.
For cats that are hospitalized, we now have several cat-friendly options available, depending on the nature of care/monitoring required. We have a feline only ward, which never contains canine patients. It is designed to avoid eye contact between cats (which tends to create anxiety), is quiet and isolated from hospital noise, and uses a Feliway diffuser, similar to the exam room. Our isolation ward has a very large kennel which can also be used for cats needing a bit more space. It is quiet, private, and can be outfitted with a Feliway diffuser similar to the cat ward. For cats requiring more continuous monitoring, our treatment room contains large, comfortable kennels which provide enough room to add hiding places within the kennel, so that observation and safety do not compromise stress reduction.
Whether coming in simply for an exam, or staying in hospital, your cat will need to make the trip back home. This is, in some cases, easier said than done…especially in multi-cat households. Even a brief visit to the vet can result in a brawl when the traveller arrives back home, reeking of “clinic smell”. We can provide resources and advice to help minimize the chances of disagreement when house mates re-unite.
The following links only take a few minutes of your time to peruse; they will save you and kitty a heap of stress in the long run:
A video “Tips for taking your cat to the veterinarian”:
A brochure “Getting your cat to the veterinarian”: