You just had a lovely breakfast served by your devoted human. You’ve settled in for your morning nap in the fist sunny spot of the day, and are dreaming of chasing mice and being revered as a Goddess by all humans. Life is good. Suddenly, your favorite human wakes you up out of your deep sleep, and gives you a hug. Okay, not something you really need to have right now, but you love your human, so you tolerate it. But wait – what is happening? All of a sudden, your formerly loving human turns on you! You’re shoved into a small container, you’re bounced around, and next thing you know, you’re in a loud, rumbling very small room that actually moves!
You know immediately where this is headed. Yup – it’s your bi-annual visit to the vet’s office.
For most cats, going to the vet’s is stressful, and for some cats, it’s so upsetting that they turn into snarling, hissing, scratching, biting little or not so little terrors. Going to a veterinary clinic where the doctors and staff understand cats can go a long way towards making the experience less stressful. What should you look for to determine whether a veterinary clinic is feline-friendly?
Ideally, look for a feline-only practice. You will find more and more of these practices in large, metropolitan areas, and even in some smaller, rural areas. If this is not an option where you are, look for the following:
- Does the practice have separate cat and dog waiting areas? Most cats, especially cats who don’t live with dogs, hate the noise and smell of dogs and do much better if they dont’ have to deal with a dog’s face in front of their carrier while waiting for the dreaded exam.
- Does the practice have cat themed decorations as well as dog themed ones? This can be an indicator of which species a practice prefers to deal with.
- Does the clinic have separate exam rooms for cats? Since most cats don’t like to smell dogs, this can help keep cats calmer.
- Do the doctor and the veterinary staff speak calmly and move slowly when introducing themselves to you and your cat?
- Do the doctor and staff take their time with your cat? Your cat has just been through the stress of a car ride and possibly a short wait in a crowded waiting room. Having a doctor or staff member come at him with a thermometer, stethoscope and needles without first giving the cat a little time to get used to the environment will not make the exam go smoothly. Veterinary staff who know and like cats know this and will act accordingly.
- Do the doctor and staff acknowledge your cat’s anxiety, or do they make disparaging remarks?
- While cats need to be handled different than dogs, restraining a fractious cats with unnecessary roughness is never okay.
These are just some of the things to look for when you’re choosing a vet for your cat. Be your cat’s advocate, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak up if you don’t like how your cat is being handled.