by Dr. Lindsay Workman, DVM
Taking your cat to the veterinarian can be a stressful experience for both your cat and yourself. However, regular veterinary care is important in keeping your cat happy and healthy. The International Cat Care group and American Association of Feline Practitioners have worked together to create guidelines for creating a more positive veterinary experience for cats allowing veterinary practices to become certified as a Cat Friendly Practice. A Cat Friendly Practice works to meet standards in the following categories:
1. Staff Training, Continuing Education, and Client Communication
A Cat Friendly Practice must have at least one veterinarian who is a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, which provides valuable resources in feline health care. In addition, all staff members handling cats must meet a minimum requirement for continuing education in feline medicine and be familiar with the guidelines for creating a Cat Friendly Practice. Finally, several members of the staff will act as feline advocates helping to educate pet owners on feline specific health concerns.
2. Veterinary Practice Premises
Cats are particularly sensitive to unfamiliar noises, sights, and smells. A Cat Friendly Practice will have areas of the hospital that allow feline patients to be separated from excessive noises and the sight of other animals which may include: a cat only waiting room, a cat-only exam room, and cat specific boarding and hospitalization areas.
3. Feline Handling
Staff members at a Cat Friendly Practice are educated in feline behavior and ways to minimize stress during handling of these patients and will have a written protocol on how cats should be handled. In addition, they may utilize Feliway (a synthetic feline facial pheromone) throughout the handling process to further decrease feline stress. Finally, staff knowledge of feline behavior allows them to educate clients on various feline behavioral problems that may be experienced at home.
4. Examination Rooms and Records
At a Cat Friendly Practice, a thorough history and physical exam will be performed at annual wellness visits. Exams will be performed in a location and manner than minimizes stress for the cat and all visits will be recorded in a specific format within the medical record.
5. Hospitalization and Boarding
In addition to offering dedicated areas for hospitalization and boarding of cats, the comfort and stress level of all cats staying overnight at a Cat Friendly Practice is taken into consideration. This includes having staff trained in signs of feline stress, providing comfortable bedding and hiding spots, and having a variety of appropriate foods that can be offered to feline patients. Furthermore, appropriate protocols are followed to ensure adequate cleanliness and avoid transmission of infectious diseases. Finally, a Cat Friendly Practice commits to having adequate medical supplies and equipment necessary for the hospitalization of feline patients as well as keeping adequate records for hospitalized patients.
6. Pain Management, Operating Room, and Anesthesia
A Cat Friendly Practice follows published protocols and guidelines for the management of painful diseases and procedures and regularly assesses a patient’s pain level. In addition, they meet set standards to ensure proper sterility/cleanliness during surgical procedures and adequate monitoring of a patient under anesthesia and post-anesthesia.
7. Surgical Equipment and Dentistry
Dental disease is common many cats. A Cat Friendly Practice strives to provide quality dental care including the ability to perform full mouth x-rays. They also commit to having adequate surgical and dental equipment that is properly maintained and sterilized/cleaned prior to procedures.
8. Diagnostic Imaging (e.g., X-rays) and Lab Facilities
A Cat Friendly Practice commits to having and maintaining the x-ray and lab equipment necessary for your cat’s medical care.
9. Treatment and Health and Safety
A Cat Friendly Practice follows appropriate protocols to ensure all medications, anesthetic gases, and chemicals are handled and stored properly.
10. Feline Preventive Healthcare Individualized by Life Stages/Age
Vaccinations, parasite control, medical testing, and behavioral and nutritional recommendations are based on published guidelines as well as taking into consideration the age and lifestyle of a particular cat.
Come by to see what a difference a Cat Friendly Practice can make for your cat and to meet your Aspen Ridge Animal Hospital feline advocates.
Dr. Lindsay Workman DVM appears courtesy of Aspen Ridge Animal Hospital in Lakeside. For more information about this health topic or others, please call (928) 537-5000.