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Postcards September 2022 - Improving Care for your Cats!

There are roughly 60 million cats and 75 million dogs in the United States. A study about household pets revealed ¼ of residents were cat owners and 1/3 were dog owners; however, veterinarian practices see dogs 4 times more than cats. Ever wondered why? Cats receive significantly less veterinary care than dogs even though most cat owners care just as much as dog owners do about their pet’s care. Most times when someone gets a cat or a kitten, it’s either free or is found. And when taken in to get vetted and neutered, there is little conversation about long-term preventative healthcare and the importance of regular veterinary checkups.

This is where the CATalyst Council has embraced the challenge. Their goal is to get more cats adopted, educate cat owners, and provide more lifetime healthcare for cat patients by encouraging vets to engage with cat owners. The CATalyst Council has launched a Cat-Friendly Practice initiative to educate vet practices about ways to better enhance feline visits. This program was established by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the International Society for Feline Medicine (ISFM). It is a global program designed to increase feline care by reducing stress for the cat, the owner, and the veterinary practice.

Here are some ways a Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) ensures the best care and experience for you and your cat:

Feline-friendly handling: Handling your cat in a gentle way can make both you and your cat’s veterinary experience better. This means the physical exam can be performed in the carrier, on the floor, in the owner’s lap, or on the exam table. Wherever the cat is least stressed, you will get the best results.

Feline-friendly waiting area: This includes a cat-only waiting area away from other animals and away from excessive noise. This will help alleviate your cat’s anxiety when in a new or unfamiliar place.

Client Education: Apart from the vet and the team engaging with the client about feline care, educational hand-outs and materials are important to expand the knowledge of feline care. Subjects for hand-outs can be about feline behavior, nutrition, enrichment at home, parasites, and preventative medicine.

Feline Preventative Healthcare by Life Stages: CFP recommends annual exams for all cats and bi-annual exams for senior cats or cats with chronic health conditions. An exam should cover pain, nutrition, and behavior of the cat and include vaccinations if applicable.

Comfortable Hospitalization: Cats can become very stressed when hospitalized. Cat-Friendly Practices aims to provide a thoughtful and comfortable place for the cat to reside for it’s treatment. This includes providing hiding places for cats to relax in. Bringing any blankets or beds or toys to leave with the cat for them to have familiar smells is encouraged. This can help lower your cat’s anxiety when staying at the vet.

Dentistry: Good dental health is so important to the overall health of your cat. Talk with your vet about your cat’s oral health! Most of the time, your cat’s first sign of pain or discomfort stems from dental disease.

Providing a safe, stress-free, and happy household for your cat is as important as taking your cat to a Cat-Friendly Practice to benefit their health and wellbeing. 10 ways to enrich your cat’s life:

  1. Provide toys

  2. Train your cat – this provides great physical and mental stimulation.

  3. Make your cat work for food – feline obesity is a big issue in the US. Making your cat work for food can let the cat use its natural hunting skills and provide weight loss.

  4. Acclimate your cat to its carrier – getting your cat familiar with its carrier can lower your cat’s stress when going to the vet or traveling.

  5. Visit the vet – healthy cats are happy cats!

  6. Microchip your cat – this provides permanent identification

  7. Go out (appropriately) – cats can be walked on a leash with a harness or in a confined space outside. This is great for mental and physical stimulation.

  8. Provide scratching posts – scratching posts allow cats to care for their claws and scratching is an important aspect of feline behavior.

  9. Provide preventive medications – monthly or bi-monthly prevention for fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites is important in keeping your cat healthy.

  10. Think about getting another cat – cats are very social and getting another cat may be beneficial for your cat’s wellbeing.

Feline health is important! There are so many ways both cat owners and veterinary practices can improve to provide the best care for their cats. Together, we can get more cats to the vet and ensure they receive the long-term healthcare they deserve.

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