Brentwood Animal Hospital Implements Cat Friendly Practice Program: Cat Friendly Designation Elevates Cat Care
The cat is king. With cats being the most beloved pet in the country, there is a growing need to improve the health care and overall well-being of the feline population. Whether it’s a routine checkup or special visit, the staff at Brentwood Animal Hospital is committed to ensuring that cats get the best care. And, to further its dedication, the clinic recently implemented the Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) program to offer pet owners more at every phase of the cat’s health care process. At Brentwood Animal Hospital, we are committed to providing quality care to our feline patients. When we heard about the CFP program, we knew it was time to take a fresh look at the practice to determine what could be done to make the veterinary visit more positive for cats and cat owners.
Program Puts Cats First
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) pioneered the CFP program to provide a framework for creating a positive practice environment for cats, including medical care that supports the cat’s unique needs and knowledgeable staff members who understand feline-friendly handling. “The AAFP realizes that cats present unique challenges before, during, and after a veterinary visit,” said Dr. Susan Little, DVM, DABVP (Feline) & President, American Association of Feline Practitioners. “Some things that can cause a cat anxiety include aversion to carriers, sensitivity to new sights and smells, and the added stress of an unfamiliar location or experience. Understanding these obstacles helped to shape the CFP program and its dedication to putting the needs of cats first.”
At a CFP-designated clinic, the veterinary staff incorporates cat-friendly features into the physical environment of the practice including special waiting rooms or waiting accommodations, feline-sensitive examination rooms and ward facilities, and equipment appropriate specifically for cats. Staff members also approach cat care in a different manner. The staff learns how to understand the needs of the cat such as how to interpret a cat’s facial expression and body language. Furthermore, the staff is well-trained in alternate techniques to calm an anxious cat and ensure that exams and procedures do not escalate anxiety.
The “Cat-vocate” team at Brentwood spent several months making tweaks to our cat-only exam room, feline protocols, hospitalized patient comforts and education for the entire staff. Some changes included:
-Limiting cat examinations to a cat-only exam room, where outside smells, noises and other distractions are minimized. Our feline-friendly exam room has a Feliway diffuser, additional cat related owner materials, door and drawer stoppers to minimize sounds, warm towels, a cat tree for hiding and play, and more!
-Cat-friendly music (yes, there are studies to back this up!) is played in the feline exam room.
-Feline patients are brought into to the exam room as quickly as possible, or offered a Feliway (stress-relieving pheromone) towel to cover their patient’s carrier and minimize visual stressors.
-Updated protocols and handling techniques minimize the stress to the patient during the exam and any hospitalized visits
“We evaluated every aspect of the practice and its environment from the perspective of the cat,” Dr. Caitlin DeWilde said. “We can proudly say that from the minute they walk through the door, our patients and clients will be part of a welcoming, comfortable experience that will ultimately lead to the improved health of our feline patients.”
After months of preparation and completing many educational modules, the Brentwood Catvocate team submitted their application, protocols and photos to the American Association of Feline Practitioners. We were proud to receive certification of being a Cat-Friendly Practice! For more information about this certification or how we can better help your feline family members, please call us at 314-962-2900. You may also learn more at the AAFP’s website for cat owners, http://catfriendly.com/. We look forward to providing the best care to our feline patients!