It’s an age-old question: Cats or dogs? The public has spoken. Cats ae the clear pet of choice, making up the greater number of home companion animals. In 2011, more than 86 million cats were owned as pets compared to 78 million dogs. Yet surprisingly, cat wellness and veterinary care do not appear to be as high of a priority among cat owners. The 2011 Bayer Healthcare, LLC, Brakke consulting, Care Usage Study revealed that 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. In order to improve the health and well-being of cats, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has initiated the Cat Friendly Practice Program.
Navigating the Veterinary Visit
Cats may be number one in the hearts of their owners, But dogs seem to recieve more consistant and regular health care. Cat owners report that the stress of transporting their pets to the veterinarian, along with the cat’s reluctance to enter a new and unfamiliar environment, causes anxiety for both cats and owners. Both feel anxiety and stress before they even set foot in the office. Once in the office, there are other potential stressors including dogs or other cats in the waiting area, staff who do not know how to handle cats, and a canine-focused environment. Cat Friendly Practices are the antidote to the stressful veterinary visit for cats.
The AAFP Promotes Quality Care
The AAFP Cat Friendly Practice program was first conceived in the United Kingdom by the Feline Advisory Bureau. Participating practices in the UK that have become cat friendly have noticed a considerable difference. The AAFP’s Cat Friendly Practice Program was inspired to ensure that veterinary practices in North America are committed to feline healthcare and implementing cat friendly standards.
This program was created to improve the standards of veterinary care for cats in practice settings. Cat Friendly Practices are sensitive to cats’ distinct needs and equipped to address their physical and behavioral needs, Thereby increasing cat owner knowledge, veterinary visits and ultimately improving the healthcare of cats by educating on the importance of wellness visits and preventative care. The program standards are designed to encourage and facilitate high-quality care while addressing the unique challenges and difficulties associated with bringing cats into the veterinary practice.
Veterinarians and their team members who have achieved Cat Friendly Status regard the practice with and entirely new perspective. By adopting a feline perspective in all areas that contribute to care, including the practice environment, staff training, client education and more, the practice culture becomes one in which every person is mindful of constantly improving the experience and care of the feline patient.
Cat Friendly Practices have completed an assessment checklist that shows they have incorporated the standard criteria for their practice to be cat friendly. The program standards for the delivery of care to the feline population are research-based and represent the highest standard for feline medical care. Once the practice has met the criteria on the checklist, reviewed education materials, and designated a Cat Advocate (possibly more than one) in their practice, their practice will be submitted for approval into the program.
Topic areas addressed in the program include staff training and client communication; waiting room design; feline handling; examination rooms and clinical records; ward/facilities; pain management/operating room and anesthesia; sugical equipment/dentistry; diagnostic imaging/lab facilities; treatment/health and safety; and preventative care by life stages. The Cat Advocate will ensure that the high standards of feline care in the practice are maintained as well as act as the point person for information.
Dr. Pam Cuevas
La Grange Park Cat Clinic
"Healthy Cats for Healthy Homes"
3075 S. Wolf Rd.
Westchester, IL 60154