Cats plus vets equals stress doesn’t it? Not so at our clinic! Cats are cats, not little dogs and we recognise that they have some species specific needs when they visit our practice. By understanding these requirements and working with them, we can make the whole experience less stressful for both cat and owner. It can be helpful to compare cats and dogs when you consider that dogs are that little bit more used to getting out and about and away from their usual territory. It wouldn’t be true to say that dogs don’t suffer fear of the vets; however for cats, who are highly territorial, breaking the boundaries of their territory is inherently uncomfortable. So International Cat Care, an organisation that researches, informs and champions feline health and welfare issues around the world, have set up a system to promote cat friendly activity within veterinary practices too. We are proud to be a part of this and would like to tell you how we are feline friendly. Next time you visit our practice look out for some of the things we do to achieve this and rest assured that this ethos continues behind the scenes in our clinical areas too.
Let’s start at the beginning…
You’ll notice on arrival that our cat-aware reception team will offer you a cover for your cat basket if you don’t already have one. Cats can feel vulnerable in a basket because the ability to run away is out of their control. So covering them over will at least keep them out of sight of perceived threats. You will then be directed to sit in our cat-only waiting area where they will wait separately to any dogs.
A no-scruff policy
Our vets and nurses will handle your cat with the utmost empathy and care, in fact they are trained to do so. We know that for cats, often less is more and so our longer consultation times (of 15 minutes) will allow us to take a slower approach. We will not scruff your cat. Picking a cat up by the skin on the back of their neck is not a comforting method of handling, despite the associations people commonly make with the way in which a queen transports her kittens. They are now grown up and consider a move like this to be dominating, painful and a great cause of stress. Instead, you’ll be amazed what a cat will let you do if you handle them with respect in a quiet and calm environment, and this is the approach our team will take. We are all trained to recognise the signs of a stressed or worried cat and take steps to reduce this anxiety as far as possible.
We provide a comfortable kennel in a cat-only ward where they will neither be able to see or smell potential predators such as dogs. Cats don’t commonly get along with other, strange cats and therefore we will ensure they can’t see one another either, and the gentle rhythms of our cat-friendly music (that’s right, it has been researched!) will help block out any other scary sounds. Comfy bedding, a box to hide away in and low-sided ceramic bowls are also features of our accommodation for cats. Did you know that a cat dislikes a high-sided food bowl because they are unable to keep an eye out for predators as they eat?
Purfect pain relief
It is extremely outdated to think that cats don’t feel pain similarly to the likes of dogs, however you might be surprised to know that some people still think so. We use analgesic protocols tailored to the patient to control pain as best as we can, be it after a neutering procedure or for some other painful condition. Not only is it only ethical to do so, but also it in turn speeds up healing and recovery because cats are more likely to eat and relax.
The practice ‘Cat Advocate’
And who is responsible for improving and educating on our policies amongst our team? Why that would be our Cat Advocate of course! This person trains our team and ensures we all sing from the same sheet when it comes to cat friendly policies.
What are the results?
These are just a few of the things that we do to show our commitment to improving your cat’s experience while they are with us. We find that these few practical adjustments to the way we work vastly increases our ability to handle our feline patients. This is generally a sign that they are more relaxed in our practice but also has another positive, practical benefit. Cats can be especially stoical when it comes to showing weakness in health – this can be traced back to times before they were domesticated, whereby showing weakness could have dire consequences in the wild. A relaxed cat however, is more likely to drop their guard making diagnosis of illness and treatments far easier.
So for veterinary care from sympathetic vets, nurses and receptionists, we welcome you to our veterinary practice.