Cats are territorial creatures who thrive in their home environment and often become stressed in unfamiliar surroundings, so many find veterinary visits unsettling. Here at the Animal Clinic of Council Bluffs, we understand feline nature and how cats respond to smells, sounds, surfaces, sights, and handling, and we are dedicated to reducing our feline patients’ fear, anxiety, and stress at home and during veterinary visits. We have achieved the Cat Friendly Practice designation, which demonstrates our devotion to low-stress handling and a feline-friendly environment. To highlight the differences between a Cat Friendly Practice and one that may be set in their ways regarding cat handling, we are sharing the stories of two cats who had polar opposite experiences.
Sydney, a tough tomcat, was used to living on the streets, until a kind family convinced him their warm home was a great improvement over the cold Council Bluffs winters. They also offered three square meals a day, but all that love, attention, and good food came with a price—veterinary care. Sydney had never been to a veterinarian before, so he was especially nervous when his family lured him into a carrier with a bite of chicken and strapped him into the car.
As his owners headed across town, Sydney’s nerves escalated, and his stomach became more and more uneasy. By the time they pulled into the hospital parking lot, Sydney could no longer hold onto his breakfast and vomited in his carrier.
Sydney and his family entered the veterinary clinic—which shall not be named—and were greeted by a chorus of barking dogs, an unpleasant odor, and a crowded waiting area. Sydney was dragged from his carrier in front of a pack of slobbering dogs, weighed quickly, and stuffed back in his carrier to wait for an available exam room.
After 10 minutes of anxiety-ridden waiting, surrounded by dogs, Sydney and his family were ushered into an exam room. The veterinarian immediately entered and pulled Sydney from his carrier again to begin his exam, allowing him no time to become accustomed to the strange surroundings or people.
Sydney flattened himself to the cold, stainless steel table, trying to disappear, but his efforts were futile. As the veterinarian approached him with a stethoscope, Sydney tried to bolt, only to be grabbed by his scruff. He hissed and spat in terror, panicking more when he could not move. The veterinarian quickly administered vaccinations and stuffed Sydney back into his carrier, right on top of his vomit. After such a terrifying experience, Sydney was more stressed when he returned for his neuter surgery, and his fear escalated with each visit, partly because of the excessive restraint.
Lucie, a lovely, long-haired calico cat, was scheduled for her biannual wellness visit with Dr. Merchant at the Animal Clinic of Council Bluffs. As a senior kitty, she received extra special care with additional wellness exams and advanced screening tests, and was always handled gently because she was painful and arthritic. Lucie loved her visits with Dr. Merchant and her team, as they made each exam comfortable and relaxing, from start to finish. As soon as her mom told her it was appointment time, Lucie eagerly darted to her carrier, no longer needing her pre-visit pharmaceuticals (PVP) that reduced her anxiety.
After arriving at the clinic, Lucie was shown to a cat-only exam room outfitted with a special kitty scale, calming feline pheromones, soothing music, cozy fleece blankets, catnip, and a variety of tempting treats. Once in her room, Lucie had time to exit her carrier and explore on her own terms, while Dr. Merchant discussed her lifestyle, history, and treatment plan with her owners.
Recognizing Dr. Merchant as the lady who spoke softly, moved calmly, and treated her with respect, Lucie gave her a tender head boop, which Dr. Merchant understood was permission to begin her exam, that included many treats and gentle caresses. Lucie focused on her mom and her snacks during the entire appointment, from physical exam and vaccinations, to a blood draw and blood pressure reading. She became a bit nervous during her blood draw, so Dr. Merchant and her assistant moved her into a different position that made her comfortable. By reading Lucie’s body language and catering to feline nature, Dr. Merchant and the entire Animal Clinic of Council Bluffs team demonstrated the meaning of a Cat Friendly Practice.
Are you ready to experience the difference a Cat Friendly Practice can make in your feline friend’s veterinary care? Give your Animal Clinic of Council Bluffs team a call to schedule your cat’s next appointment, and enjoy all the comforts a Cat Friendly Practice can provide.
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