cat vet stethoscope veterinary exam

Cats are notoriously underserved when it comes to veterinary care. The  American Association of Feline Practitioners shares the following statistics:

  • In the United States, there are 86 Million Owned Cats and 78 Million Owned Dogs.
  • 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.
  • 41% of cat owners visit the veterinarian only for vaccinations.
  • 39% of cat owners say they would only take their cat to the veterinarian if the cat was sick.
  • 60% of cat owners report that their cat hates going to the veterinarian.
  • 38% of cat owners report that they get stressed just thinking about bringing their cat to the practice.

These numbers are alarming, because  they support the misconception that cats don’t need the same level of care as dogs. In fact, quite the opposite may be true. The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends annual wellness exams for cats of all ages, with more frequent exams for seniors, geriatrics and cats with known medical conditions. I recommend bi-annual exams for cats age 7 and older. Cats are masters at hiding discomfort, and annual or bi-annual exams are the best way to detect problems early. Once a cat shows symptoms, treatment may be much more extensive, not as effective, and will also cost more.

One barrier to regular vet visits for cat guardians is the fact that so many cats get so stressed when they have to go to the vet’s. Going to a veterinary clinic where the doctors and staff understand cats can go a long way towards making the experience less stressful. If at all possible, 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 an all-feline practice is not an option where you live, look for a cat-friendly practice.

Earlier this year, the AAFP rolled out its cat-friendly practice initiative. The goals of the initiative are to:

  • Lay the groundwork for the delivery of care to the underserved feline population.
  • Identify trends and baseline species information essential for understanding cats.
  • Acknowledg the essential role of the cat owner in the veterinary visit.
  • Provide support to veterinarians and their teams to create a cat friendly practice environment.
  • Outline strategies for introducing changes in the delivery of care that incorporate a better understanding of the cat’s distinct needs and behaviors.

Certification requires a practice to have at least one staff member who belongs to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, though a practice does not need to specialize specifically in cats. Practices must comply with a 10-item checklist and send it to the AAFP for review.

You can search for a cat-friendly practice by country, state/provide, or city on the AAFP website.

Is your vet feline-friendly? If you like them, leave their name and location in a comment, and tell us a little bit about what makes them cat-friendly.

Photo: istockphoto

28 Comments on Finding a cat-friendly vet

  1. After having been a regular patient at Loving Hands Animal Hospital, I am extremely angry my cat’s long-term medicine manufacturer was changed because the regular manufacturer was out of stock. The vet KNOWS the cat NEEDS the medicine so DEMANDED I bring the cat back in for another visit that I would of course have to pay for when I had already been in this year a couple months ago and a full exam and extra tests were done, including an x-ray. I get angry when I feel like I am being nickled and dimed to death and using my cat’s medical condition to hold my wallet hostage and threaten to report me if I don’t bring the cat in. THEY are the ones who changed the manufacturer to purchase an ineffective medicine which was working great through the original manufacturer, of which the doctor claimed that all medicines are the same no matter who manufactures it. Not true. ONE little molecular addition or subtraction during the manufacturing process would CHANGE the EFFECTIVENESS of that medicine. But I’m the one who doesn’t know what I am talking about, even though I VERIFIED it with KNOWN MANUFACTURING EXPERTS, and I even worked in chemical manufacturing plants and took courses towards a medical degree, but yeah, I don’t know what I’m talking about when I say the composition is different from this manufacturer than the new one they used. Then when I proceed to make my point, ALL the doctors and staff TALKED OVER me, pissed me off, and stressed me out more than I already was. My cat HATES going to the vet and to find someone who actually cares is like finding a needle in the haystack. This place was fine when it was a smaller practice. Once it grew, the doctors quit caring about my cat and just wanted my money. Now I have to find a new small vet that understands I am the one who makes the decisions for my cat, not them. I am the owner of the cat and the cat is better taken care of than me. I also live with the cat for going on 18 years and observe him daily. I think I know better what is going on with my cat on a daily basis. But instead I am insulted and talked down to when they ask, “Are you a Veterinarian??!!” Woman, I don’t have to be a veterinarian to have a brain with common sense; I can see that this medicine only lasted less than one month when the other manufacturer of the same medicine would last six months, same dose given to the cat and same administered quantity received in the bottle. So today, I demanded all the cat’s records and will find a vet that doesn’t insult its patient’s owners. Vets should NEVER treat the people as though they are stupid and should just blindly believe and follow everything a vet says, especially since those vets never know if the patient’s owner has been to medical school. So I will just go ahead and make a complaint e-mail to AAFP about how I was treated and threatened.

  2. I am so glad that you emailed AAFP. As a member of the Cat Friendly Practice task force, it is disturbing and terribly disappointing to hear your story. We count on people and practices to take pride in the way in which they improve the experience that cats and their people have with veterinary visits. The program’s goals focus solely on that. We know that many practices have invested lots of time in team training, gentle handling, effective communication, and improving the reception and exam room space. They are justifiably proud of their accomplishment and deserve to show their communities that cats and their beloved people can have a good visit with us. But we are a small nonprofit and don’t have the resources to police the program so we rely on feedback from people like Ingrid’s readers to help us stay aware of events in our Cat Friendly practices. Of course, this practice will not experience the benefits of becoming cat friendly because they haven’t put the effort into it. They are fooling themselves that a title will make any difference.
    Good luck with your search for a veterinary practice that treats cats with the respect and knowledge they so richly deserve,
    Elizabeth Colleran

  3. Unfortunately, I’m writing to report a Cat Friendly Practice that was NOT friendly to my cat. I just sent a message on the AAFP website asking them to investigate. I don’t know if they do that, or if posting this warning here will help. I just want to warn people in general that a clinic can say they’re cat-friendly, and use the CFP logo, but actually be the opposite when you get there.

    My experience was with Dr. Luke B. Lipham at All About Animals Veterinary Services, P.C. in Carrollton, GA. I’m new to Carrollton, and used the CFP locator on the AAFP website in the hopes of finding a great vet to work with. I took my young female cat to Dr. Lipham last week, and was very angry when I left.

    First, the clinic website indicates that they have an exam room dedicated to cats, but when I asked about this, the technician told me that dogs and cats are seen in all the rooms. Second, Dr. Lipham didn’t even introduce himself to me when he entered the room.

    Third, he and his technician handled my cat like she was a sack of potatoes. They started by dumping her out of her carrier, instead of taking the top off, which would have been easier and less scary for her. Then they both picked her up by her scruff and flopped her around from side to side. When I told the Dr. that I thought she had a hernia, he said that, yes, he could feel it, then flopped her upside down and jammed his thumb into the hole in her abdominal wall and invited me to do the same.

    Finally, both the Dr. and the technician talked loudly, slammed the door several times, and the Dr. slammed a clipboard onto the exam table in front of my cat’s carrier. It was clear that Dr. Lipham either didn’t care about the stress he was causing my cat, or that he was ignorant about it.

    My cats are members of my family, and I wouldn’t recommend this practice to anyone. Furthermore, I will be warning anyone who asks about the way in which my cat was treated there. If any of you know of a good website to post a veterinarian review, please let me know and I’ll be happy to give an account of my experience. The AAFP’s website has great guidelines for making a clinic cat-friendly, but this clinic didn’t adhere to most of them.

  4. I am a veterinary technician. I have found over the years that there are many male vets who dislike cats. It’s part of the practice, so they have to deal with them, but in the back rooms, I have seen doctors seriously abuse cats. My advice is to find a cat-only vet, preferably a woman.

  5. If you live in NYC, the very best is New York Cat Hospital, on the upper west side. Dr. Peter Soboroff is incredible, even though I live in queens I take my two Cats there. Only negative is it is pricey. Dr S. adores cats and will spend an hour doing exams and answering any questions or concerns you may have. Amazing care and luxury for your kitties.

  6. If you’re in Vermont…

    Tamerack Veterinary Hospital
    2040 Vermont 128 Westford, VT 05494‎
    (802) 878-7790

    Dr. Vrba is wonderful with cats!

  7. Two in the Cincinnati area. This one I used to go to when I lived closer to her office, she was always caring, gentle, and thorough.

    Cat Clinic
    Dr. Judith Clemons
    3908 Edwards Road
    Cincinnati, OH 45209
    (513) 351-7877

    This is where I go now after I moved out to a suburb between Dayton and Cincinnati. This office is 2 miles from my house, the care we receive from Dr. Baxter is top-notch.

    Cat Care Hospital
    Dr. Nathan Baxter
    9367 Cincinnati Columbus Road
    West Chester, OH 45069
    (513) 779-3300

    Both are cat-only practices.

  8. The cat only clinic near me does not sound like a good option for me. They have inflated rates for everything, it’s cold and clinical feeling, and, worst of all, I’ve heard they do not allow the guardian in the exam room. This does not “acknowledge the essential role of the cat owner in the vet visit” to me. I’ll stick with the private practice I’ve found where the Vet is friendly and warm and you feel like you are being cared for personally.

  9. Here’s two if you’re in the NYC/Northern NJ Area


    Astoria Veterinary Group
    2354 Steinway St
    Astoria, NY 11105
    Neighborhood: Astoria
    (718) 777-0100

    Dr. Crespo is so sweet and is a cat owner himself. He keeps one cat in the office and likes to talk about how he backpacked through Europe when he was younger with his favorite feline in tow.

    Cameron Animal Hospital
    417 Bloomfield Ave
    Montclair, NJ 07042
    (973) 744-2052

    Dr. Cameron is an old-timer with a soft spot for cats, so much so he runs a cat rescue shelter out of the clinic.

  10. we go to The Cat Care Clinic in Orange
    2638 North Tustin Street Orange, CA 92865
    (714) 282-2287

    We see Dr. Panza, the clinic is owned by Dr. Wexler Mitchell-. It is an exclusive cat vet clinic-My kids hate the ride in the car and Dr. Panza comes and does a home visit. For one cat this does not help too much because he smells her and gets agitated. For my other cat it saves the car ride. For me it dips into my wallet-seriously whatever I can do to relieve their stress-also whenever the cat has had issues-vomiting, asthma attack-they are fantastic with follow up calls. It is a drive but well worth it-when my first cat was diagnosed with asthma the initial vet gave me steroids with improper protocol for taking them-the protocol is very regimented-thankfully that cat was not showing symptoms and I never gave him the drugs-I was in shock when my second cat was diagnosed and Dr. Panza walked me through the protocol. I never leave their office with questions while at the old vet I would leave more confused.

  11. Thanks, everyone, for sharing your cat-friendly vets! I should share my vet, too: Dr. Andrea Tasi of Just Cats Naturally. Dr. Tasi makes housecalls for cats in the greater Washington DC area. She specializes in homepathy, and she’s wonderful!

  12. We love our vet (and the techs and staff!)! AmClare Veterinary Hospital in Williamsville NY is great. Dr Olson owns cats and is very good with geriatric cats. Recently we had to visit the vet ER and had a horrible experience–I couldn’t wait until 8 am so I knew my cat would be safe with Dr O. He is compassionate, reasonable and honest.

  13. After many years of trial and error I found Great Falls Animal Hospital in Great Falls, Virginia. They are very good with my cats and are quite patient with my catparent anxiety. The distance from my home is the only drawback, my cats really dislike travel by car.

  14. I’m going to have to look for one in my area. The vet we’re going to is TERRIBLE! They know nothing about cats or ways to calm us. The peeps will never take me back there which is a problem cos none of the other vets near us speak English.

  15. Cats Exclusively
    Pittsford, NY

    These folks are the absolute best! As the name implies, they only cater to felines. The facility is gorgeous and has a spa-like quality to it; the calming atmosphere definitely helps reduce stress levels off their patients. They’re fully equipped with state of the art technology allowing them to do all procedures on site, and they’re extremely pro-active about attending meetings to keep up with the most recent advances in feline health. The staff and physicians truly care for their patients; there is no rush to get patients in/out quickly. Visits are always scheduled for a minimum of 40min, and they’ll always spend extra time if needed. Although the facility is quite far from me (a 40min drive), the exceptional level of care they provide is well worth it!

  16. My Vet was wonderful with my family cat that was a feral….and not a nice one at that….but he was wonderful with me and my husband…….My Vet who was extra special with care and handling is:

    Dr. Hunton
    South Branch Veterinary Services
    1127 State Hwy 31
    Lebanon New Jersey
    Phone: 908-735-9998

  17. DePorre Veterinary Hospital
    4062 W. Maple, Bloomfield Hills, MI.
    (248) 646-1669

    Adore them. They have recently remodeled (but I have been taking my pets there for about 10 yrs) and they have now separated cat exam rooms from dog exam rooms, meaning that cats and dogs aren’t waiting in the same area any longer to be seen.

    My vet listens, is knowledgeable, (he is one of about 8 vets at the practice), they are family owned-operated and my vet truly treats Cody (and he did with Bobo as well) with the same love, compassion that I do.

    I adore them!

  18. Kathy Huntsman, of Just Cats in Fredericksburg, VA is the absolute greatest. Her love of cats just shines through in the way she relates to them. My big tortie girl, Thumbelina, actually laid in the scale, purring, while Dr Huntsman checked her out. She’s a brilliant vet, very skilled–I’d say intuitive–at interpreting feline behavior in relation to health issues.
    The hardest part of moving from Fredericksburg was having to leave our kitty vet behind.

  19. My vet, Dr. Paula Walsh, at North Greenville animal hospital
    North Greenville Animal Hospital
    1300 Stallings Road
    Greenville, SC
    (864) 244-8281 AND the hospital owner, Dr. Malphrus are both very good with cats. I have 6 cats & we’ve seen Dr Walsh numerous times. She is caring, thoughtful & compassionate to both cat & “owner” & my cats lessen their anxiety by watching birds from a well designed viewing window & a bird-friendly outdoor feeding area (squirrels aren’t welcome to the BIRD FOOD!!!).

  20. Our vet which I have gone too with Snickers and a previous cat Gizmo for 25 yrs is very cat friendly.I would not use anyone else. They are Imperial Point Animal Hospital, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.In fact they are all animal friendly and our pets are treated like our children which is how it should be!

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