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Is your veterinary practice cat friendly?

The Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB), a charity dedicated to the health and
wellbeing of cats, is to reward veterinary practices that have put a great deal of
effort into ‘thinking cat’ and to encourage more practices to develop good
‘catittude’ by running the FAB Cat Friendly Practice Competition. Cat owners can
nominate their practice for a Cat Friendly Award.

FAB is launching the Cat Friendly Practice Competition to 6000 vets at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham, on April 20. As part of the campaign to encourage more practices to ‘think cat’, FAB will be providing practices with a copy of its practical guide to Creating a Cat Friendly Practice, thanks to sponsorship from Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Direct Line Pet Insurance and Pfizer Animal Health.

Most cat owners find taking their pet to the vet very stressful and this isn’t just because they are worried about the health of their cat. It is about getting there, facing a room full of dogs and having to present the vet with an uncooperative cat. It is a stressful experience because the cat finds it so.

Most cats prefer to be at home on their own familiar territory. They are not used to car travel and they feel insecure in the strange environment of the practice with its unusual smells and collection of people and dogs. They will not enjoy being put in a carrier, then removed from its ‘safety’ in the surgery. Cats don’t like being restrained as they have to be for examination because their natural reaction is to run away. So a visit to even the most sympathetic of vets can be frightening. Then there is the return journey to consider, often with the prospect of having to give pills to the cat!

While providing cat-only waiting rooms or arranging cat clinics at certain times goes a good way to making the visit to the vet less stressful, it is not the only thing that can be done. Something as simple as a sympathetic

attitude from the practice staff – taking time to allow cats to settle during examinations and handling them confidently and gently, for example - makes a world of difference. A good practice will be able to provide tips on the best way to bring a cat into the practice. It may ensure that the practice is well ventilated (reducing the smells that would put the cat on edge) and may provide special clinics catering for the health of young, old or overweight cats.

A practice that makes the extra effort for its feline patients at the front of house is also likely to be making extra efforts behind the scenes to keep cats under their care as comfortable and happy as possible. This could mean everything from providing a quiet feline-only recovery area following surgery to placing feline igloo-type beds in recovery cages to give the cat somewhere to hide and feel secure as well as providing warmth. Vets can also help clients by trying to find (if it is possible) the easiest way to give medication, for example giving advice on whether tablets can be crushed or, if they are bitter, putting them in a gelatine capsule.

“Part of the remit of the RCVS is ‘to promote and sustain public confidence in veterinary medicine’ - and it is great when other organisations help us to do our job!” says Mrs Lynne Hill MRCVS President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. “I think that FAB’s Cat Friendly Practice programme is an excellent initiative which will help veterinary surgeons to better understand the needs of cats and their owners and offer clients of practices recognised by the scheme greater confidence in the practice’s ability to meet those needs.

“There are excellent veterinary practices out there - both small animal and otherwise - and it is good to see some of those gaining recognition from an organisation as well respected by the public and vets alike as the FAB.”

If your practice is trying its best to be cat friendly, please encourage them by nominating them for a FAB Cat Friendly Practice Award. This can be made by collecting a nomination form from your practice or through the website www.catfriendlypractice.co.uk

Deadline for nominations is June 23. FAB will then contact the practice and ask them to submit a report showing what they do to make it a more cat friendly place. A practice gaining a top award in November will have been inspected by FAB.

For more information on the work of the charity and the FAB Cat Friendly Practice Campaign go to www.fabcats.org or call 0870 742 2278.