Springbrook_iStock_000059404992_LargeFor feline guardians, the journey to the vet can be one that is less than pleasant. Even a trip in the car can create anxiety in cat companions, much less a noisy, dog-filled, and odoriferous vet clinic. That is why there is a new understanding of what being a cat friendly practice entails and how your purr-fect friend will benefit from this understanding.

Why So Anxious?

Cats have highly developed senses and an instinct to roam what they perceive as their territory. You’ve likely seen your cat rub his face on the corner of a wall, on furniture, and even on you. Essentially, this process marks what he perceives as his zone and allows a certain level of comfort and confidence.

Outside of this safety zone, however, is a world full of sights, smells, and sounds. Cats are particularly sensitive to noise and new odors. Since many vet clinics are filled with strange scents and sounds (from myriad animals, no less), this experience can send a cat into sensory overdrive and create anxiety and fear if not addressed.

Combine the strangeness of the new experience with a handling- and travel-averse cat, and you can have an overly stressed cat on your hands.

The Cat Friendly Clinic

When polled, more than 56% of cat owners admitted to dreading taking their cats to the vet. Unfortunately, this has resulted in many cats going multiple years without getting the care and treatment they need for a healthy life.

In order to accommodate the specific needs of cats, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) established an accreditation process based on specific cat care focused guidelines.

The AAFP Cat Friendly Practice program ensures the following guidelines are met by its members:

  • Creating a clinic that is more comfortable for cats, such as managing noise and offering separate waiting areas for cats and dogs, and minimizing stress during medical procedures
  • Providing training to staff on how to gently handle cat patients
  • Honing skills and capabilities related to diagnosing and treating cat conditions, diseases, and illnesses
  • Recognizing the important role of the cat owner and instilling confidence through education and communication
  • Helping to spread the word and raise awareness on the key principles and practices of a cat friendly veterinary clinic

The Pet Experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center are pleased to be recognized as a AAFP Cat Friendly Practice and strive to meet the highest level of care and understanding of our feline friends.

What You Can Do to Minimize Your Cat’s Stress

There are also some great tips on helping address some of the travel fears cats commonly experience. To acclimate your cat to the important journey to his wellness exam, implement the following tactics.

  • Increase your cat’s comfort level with his carrier by keeping it open and providing treats, toys, and daily meals there – some even find that Feliway or similar pheromone sprays to help ease kitties into the dreaded carrier.
  • Conduct a few trial runs on typical examination handling by placing your cat on a counter or table and touching paws, looking into ears, and inspecting teeth and gums (carefully).
  • Ease your cat into car rides by taking him on a few short trips around the neighborhood or to the corner store each week – and follow up with a tasty treat when the journey is completed.

While cats may never learn to love car rides or trips to the vet, they can be better accommodated through acclimation and by choosing a cat friendly practice. Schedule your cat’s wellness exam or call The Pet Experts to learn more about our approach to treating our whiskered patients.