What is a Cat Friendly Practice®?
CFPThe AAFP seeks to encourage and facilitate good quality veterinary care for cats. However, we recognize that there are unique challenges and difficulties in bringing your cat to a veterinary practice, including:
- Cats often do not travel well.
- Cats do not feel safe when they are away from their normal home territory.
- Cats are highly sensitive to unusual sights, sounds and smells.
- Most cats prefer quiet and solitude.
- Most cats are highly susceptible to stress and anxiety.
- Most cats are highly stressed by dogs and other cats being in close proximity at the practice.
- Cats need to be handled gently, with care and respect in the practice.
- Cats have unique medical requirements that Cat Friendly Practices are capable of providing.
The AAFP established the Cat Friendly Practice® program to help veterinary practices meet the wide range of unique needs of cats in a veterinary practice setting. An extensive self-assessment checklist was designed to demonstrate that Cat Friendly Practices®:
- Understand the unique needs of cats and have made veterinary visits more cat-friendly.
- Understand how to approach and handle cats in a gentle, empathetic and caring manner.
- Have an appropriate standard of equipment needed to investigate and treat feline patients.
- Meets a standard for the facilities and care for hospitalized cats.
How Can I Benefit from Visiting a Cat Friendly Practice®?
Below are some specific ways in which cat owners can benefit from visiting a Cat Friendly Practice®:
- They make an effort to have a calming environment.
- They have incorporated a waiting room/area that reduces stress associated with noise, other pets or unfamiliar smells (methods can include feline-only area, separate space with barrier blocking visual contact, cat-only appointment times, going directly into the exam room, etc.).
- Staff are trained to understand the individualized needs of cats including feline specific facial and behavior cues.
- They implement the Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines to facilitate a more positive experience.
- They use a slow approach to achieve positive results.
- They develop an individual plan based on your cat’s specific needs, preferences and behaviors.
- They implement ways to make you and your cat be as comfortable as possible.
- Staff continually obtain education on the most current feline research and guidelines.
- They will help ensure that you are a valuable member of your cat’s healthcare team and help you understand your cat’s needs and what you can do at home to ensure they get the care they need.
- Many use synthetic feline facial pheromones for a calming effect.
- Many have a feline-only examination room that provides a safe, non-threatening area where cats can be examined calmly and effectively.
- They have experience to recognize subtle, early signs of fear or anxiety and adapt appropriately.
- Their cat ward, hospitalization area and operating room have been assessed to include appropriate feline equipment, tools and procedures.
Each practice also has at least one “Cat Advocate” who is a knowledgeable professional that ensures your cat’s care is guided by feline-focused standards. Cat Advocates are chosen for their experience, understanding, empathetic manner and willingness to help answer any of your questions.
When designated as a Cat Friendly Practice®, selected veterinary clinics have proven they have taken specific extra steps to assure they understand a cat’s unique needs and have implemented feline-friendly standards. You can search online for a Cat Friendly Practice® in your area.
Click the video below to see a testimonial from an owner who takes her cat to a Cat Friendly Practice®: