The American Association of Feline Practitioners has created a program for veterinary practices known as the “Cat Friendly Practice”. The following information and more can be found on their website at www.catvets.com or for owner-specific resources, www.catfriendly.com.
What is a Cat Friendly Practice?
The AAFP created the Cat Friendly Practice program to help veterinary practices meet the wide range of unique needs of cats in a veterinary practice setting. Cat Friendly Practices will demonstrate that they:
- Understand the unique needs of cats and have made adjustments to make veterinary visits more cat-friendly.
- Understand how to approach and handle cats in a gentle, empathetic and caring manner (the program discourages the scruffing method of restraining).
- Have an appropriate standard of equipment needed to investigate and treat feline diseases (appropriate sizes of needles, catheters, etc.).
- Meets a standard for the facilities and care for hospitalized cats (similar to the AAHA standards).
One simple reason, cats often do not travel well. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (or AAFP) seeks to encourage good quality veterinary care for cats. However, we recognize that there are unique challenges and difficulties in bringing your cat to a veterinary practice, including:
- Do not feel safe when they are away from their normal home territory.
- Are highly sensitive to unusual sights, sounds and smells.
- Prefer quiet and solitude.
- Are highly susceptible to stress and anxiety.
- Are highly stressed by dogs and other cats being in close proximity.
- Need to be handled gently, with care and respect in the practice.
- Cats have unique medical requirements that Cat Friendly Practices are capable of providing.
Meet Our Cat Friendly Advocate, Dr. Heather Toyne! Each practice has at least one ‘Cat Advocate’ who is a knowledgeable professional that ensures your cat’s care is guided by feline-focused standards. Cat Advocates are chosen for their experience, understanding, empathetic manner and willingness to help answer any and all of your questions.
Why Cat Friendly Practices (CFP)?
Trends and Statistics
- In the United States, there are 86 Million Owned Cats and 78 Million Owned Dogs.
- Almost twice as many cats than dogs never visit the vet.
- 41% of cat owners visit the vet only for vaccinations.
- 39% of cat owners say they would only take their cat to the veterinarian if the cat was sick.
- 60% of cat owners report that their cat hates going to the veterinarian (see our post about “Getting Your Pet to the Vet” for tips).
- 38% of cat owners report that they get stressed just thinking about bringing their cat to the practice.
- Studies have shown that older cats visit the veterinarian less often than younger cats and that owners of indoor cats are less likely to place a priority on preventative care than owners of outdoor cats.
How Can I Benefit from Visiting a Cat Friendly Practice?
Some specific ways cat owners and cats can benefit from visiting a clinic that is “CFP” certified:
- We make an effort to have a calming environment, starting with a separate entrance for both cats and dogs. We will also have a specific exam room just for cats. We also have a specific area in treatment for cats.
- Our separated waiting room area reduces stress associated with noise, other pets or unfamiliar smells (methods include feline-only area, going directly into the exam room when possible, etc.).
- Our staff is trained to understand the individualized needs of cats including feline specific behavior and body language (start to notice the early signs of when a cat is getting scared or stressed)
- We implement the Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines to facilitate a more positive experience.
- We use a slow and calm approach to achieve positive results.
- We always develop an individual plan based on your cat’s specific needs, preferences and behaviors.
- We implement ways to make you and your cat as comfortable as possible.
- Our staff continuously obtains education on the most current feline research and guidelines.
- We know that you are a valuable member of your cat’s healthcare team and so our best to help you understand your cat’s needs and what you can do at home to ensure they get the care they need.
- We use synthetic feline facial pheromones for a calming effect as needed.
- We have a feline-only examination room that provides a safe, non-threatening area where cats can be examined calmly and effectively.
- Our cat ward, hospitalization area and operating room have been assessed to include appropriate feline equipment, tools and procedures.
You can search online for a Cat Friendly Practice in your area at https://catfriendly.com/find-a-veterinarian/www.catvets.com/cat-owners/find-vets-and-practices