Growling. Hissing. Spitting. Striking. These are all things we like to avoid in our feline friends, but sometimes these are elicited by a trip to the veterinary clinic. Though there have been many advances in feline and canine medicine over the years, it is not as common to evaluate stress levels of our patients as they come in for their visit. Not only does stress make examination difficult and sometimes impossible, it’s also quite unpleasant for the pet.
If you’ve visited us recently, you will have seen that we have made some changes around Aztec to make our hospital more feline-friendly. There is a cat-only sitting area to reduce any chance canine encounters, an exam room that is a primarily cat-only room (no doggie smells!) and we are using Feliway-infused towels to cover the kennels. When cats rub the side of their nose and face on an object, they are marking it as safe and secure with facial pheromones. Feliway is a synthetic version of these pheromones and has been found to reduce stress levels in cats. Our cat towels are sprayed with Feliway about 20 minutes prior to the appointment and then used for handling, restraining, and covering cats as needed for their exams and procedures. It has been very rewarding to hear feedback from clients about how this has improved the overall demeanor of their cat in the exam room!
If you bring your cat in for an appointment and notice a difference with these Feliway-infused towels, please let us know!
As we transition your cat from the exam room to the back treatment area, we take care to keep your cat wrapped in their Feliway towel. We have two rooms in the hospital that are used for procedures such as drawing blood or cleaning wounds that are separate from the rest of the hospital. This prevents cats from having to worry about any canines that happen by. There is also a Feliway diffuser plugged into the wall in the feline kennel area to help keep them calm during their stay.
We are currently working toward our Feline-Friendly Practice certification as we strive to reduce the stress often encountered on veterinary visits. Stay tuned for further changes and improvements down the road!
Some helpful tips to reduce stress with veterinary visits:
1) For at least several days prior to the exam, try feeding your cat his or her meals in the kennel so that they learn to associate it with a positive experience. This will make being in a kennel less stressful when the time comes to travel
2) Feel free to pick up a Feliway towel at the front desk to cover your kennel when you come in. The sitting area to the far left of the lobby has been set aside for feline-use.
3) Refrain from placing your kennel on the floor. This attracts unwanted canine attention (no one wants a canine nose poking into your little kennel!) and cats tend to feel safer when in a higher location. You may place the kennel on the counter top or on the bench in the cat sitting area while checking in or out of an appointment.
Cats are inherently wary of carriers, but watch this video from the CATalyst Council for some more helpful tips…
Darbie Cummings, DVM