Thursday, March 22, 2012

Help for Cats That Freak Out at the Vet's Office

Posted By: Dr. Becker on March 21 2012

Those of you reading here today who share your lives with a cat know taking Tiger for vet visits can be an upsetting experience for both of you.
In fact, many kitties are so distressed by vet visits their owners decide it's more harmful than helpful to subject their pet to routine wellness exams.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP)i:
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 veterinarian
Of the cats that do visit the veterinarian, they average 26% fewer visits than dogs
  • 41% of cat owners visit the veterinarian only for vaccinations (which is the worst reason for routine vet visits)
  • 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
  • 38% of cat owners report that they get stressed just thinking about bringing their cat to the practice
The result, of course, is too many cats are not seen by a veterinarian until they become sick. And because kitties are excellent at hiding discomfort and illness, often a disease process is quite advanced before the cat parent even knows there's a problem.

Making Veterinary Practices More Feline Friendly

To help provide solutions to the problem of declining feline vet visits, the AAFP has created a "Cat Friendly Practice" initiative aimed at veterinary clinics. The goal of the initiative is to help vet practices become more welcoming places for cats, and more accommodating to their unique needs. Hopefully this will ultimately encourage more cat owners to bring their pets to the vet for routine wellness checkups. In order to be designated a "Cat Friendly Practice," a vet clinic must have at least one DVM on staff who belongs to the AAFP. The clinic must also comply with a 10-item checklist covering the following areas:
  1. Staff Training & Continuing Education / Client Communications
  2. Veterinary Practice / Waiting Room
  3. Feline Handling & Interaction with Clients
  4. Examination Room & Clinical Records
  5. Wards Facilities
  6. Pain Management / Operating Room & Anesthesia
  7. Surgical Equipment & Dentistry
  8. Diagnostic Imaging & Laboratory Facilities
  9. Treatment / Health & Safety
  10. Preventative Care by Life Stages
The staff submits their completed checklist for review, and if the AAFP approves, the clinic receives the "Cat Friendly Practice" designation.
The vet office then receives marketing materials to promote its cat-friendly status to the community, and is listed in a Cat Friendly Practice online database.
According to the AAFP, there are actually two levels a veterinary practice can qualify for. "Silver Standard" status means the practice has met the standard criteria to be a Cat Friendly Practice. "Gold Standard" status is awarded to vet practices that have implemented an optimum level of cat-friendly criteria.

More tomorrow....

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