In the United States, there are millions more owned cats than owned dogs, yet cats visit veterinarians much less frequently than dogs. Many cat owners do not receive much information about their cat’s unique behaviors, needs, and health conditions. Contributing to the problem is the stress associated with getting the cat to the veterinary practice. The veterinary visit starts before you even arrive at our hospital with trying to get your cat in the carrier and the car ride to the practice.
As a Certified Cat Friendly Practice, we truly understand the unique behavior and health characteristics of cats. As a solitary hunter and obligate carnivore, their needs and care requirements differ tremendously from those of dogs, and they often go unmet, which can lead to health problems such as obesity and urinary tract disease as well as behavior issues such as urine marking, scratching, and aggression.
Our goal in all we do and recommend is to optimize your cat’s health and longevity, prevent behavior and health problems from occurring, and help you recognize any early warning signs that could indicate trouble. For a comprehensive resource on all aspects of care, behavior, and health conditions of cats please visit our friends at the American Association of Feline Practitioners at The Cat Community. We also invite you to check out the feline-specific resources we have on our cat owner resource page.
Click on the links below to find out more about how a Cat-Friendly Practice can benefit you and your cat.
What makes Riverstone Animal Hospital unique as a Certified Cat Friendly Practice?
A certified Cat Friendly Practice is one that has made changes to decrease stress and provide a more calming environment such as feline-only waiting areas and examination rooms. The staff has also been trained in feline-friendly handling and understanding cat behavior in order to increase the quality of care for your cat. 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 and are not just “small dogs”
How does a certified Cat Friendly Practice benefit me and my cat?
We are very proud to carry the Cat Friendly Gold status, which is the highest level of certification awarded by AAFP! The items below help you understand of what this means for you and your cat:
- We make an effort to have a calming environment.
- Upon arrival you and your cat will be escorted immediately into a cat-only exam room to minimize stress in the lobby. Should you have to wait in the lobby, we have an area reserved just for cats which includes pheromone-treated towels to cover your cat carrier.
- We have a feline-only examination room that provides a safe, non-threatening area where cats can be examined calmly and effectively. It has a window to the outside and cubbies where your cat can hide and feel safe.
- Our staff are trained to understand the individualized needs of cats including feline specific behavior and facial features. We can recognize subtle, early signs of fear or anxiety and adapt appropriately.
- We implement AAFP’s Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines to facilitate a more positive experience.
- We use a slow approach with your kitty to achieve positive results.
- We develop an individual health plan based on your cat's specific needs, preferences and behaviors.
- Our staff continually obtain education on the most current feline research and guidelines. We maintain membership with the American Association of Feline Practitioners and have designated cat advocates on our team.
- We 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 optimal care and quality of life.
- We use synthetic feline facial pheromones for a calming effect in our exam rooms, treatment areas, and in our boarding facilities.
- Our cat ward, hospitalization area and operating room have been assessed to include appropriate feline equipment, tools and procedures.
How can I make the trip to the hospital less stressful for my cat and myself?
Regular veterinary care is very important for cats especially, as they have unique health concerns and are experts at hiding any signs of problems. However, many cats as well as their owners, dread the trip to the veterinarian. We are dedicated to make this a more positive experience for both of you.
Please visit our cat owner resource page and click on the link for the “Getting Your Cat to the Veterinarian” brochure. This will give you valuable information to help you minimize stress for your cat.
We also provide complimentary pheromone wipes that you can use on your cat carrier on the day of your visit. These will greatly help calm your cat while in the carrier. Just come on by our hospital any time prior to your visit to pick one up!
Why does my cat have to have a checkup even if she doesn’t need any vaccines?
Preventive care examinations or check-ups for all cats should occur a minimum of once yearly, and more frequently for senior cats and those with chronic conditions. Due to their genetic history as a solitary desert hunter and obligate carnivore, cats have unique needs and requirements that are often difficult to satisfy when kept as indoor, non-hunting pets.
Being a relatively inactive, indoor-only pet, eating free-choice dry food, and having other pet house mates, is actually a very unnatural lifestyle for cats. If we are not careful this can lead to significant health and behavior problems such as obesity, lack of grooming, urinary issues, aggression, and destructive behaviors.
For this reason, regular veterinary visits are important to your cat’s individualized healthcare plan. Some things that will be discussed and assessed are your cat’s nutrition, lifestyle, environmental enrichment, disease and parasite prevention, and behavior.
Other important aspects:
- Cats age more rapidly than we do so preventive care examinations once to twice yearly are a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle.
- During the physical examination, veterinarians can often detect conditions that may affect your cat’s health long before they become significant so they can be managed or cured before they become painful or more costly.
- As a member of the family, your cat deserves the best possible care. Together, you and your veterinarian can best decide how to accomplish that by meeting at least annually to talk about your cat and any changes that have taken place in their life. With the information you bring and a good physical examination, a plan will be created that meets the needs of your cat and the family.
- You are an important member of your cat’s healthcare team. You can be instrumental in helping your cat live a happy and healthy quality of life.
What can I expect to be discussed at my cat’s wellness visit?
Your cats preventative care visit will start with a thorough history and discussion of any health and behavior concerns you have. Be prepared to describe in detail your cat’s diet, daily routine, play times, treats, and unique behaviors.
We will want to check your cat’s stool for intestinal parasites. Please bring a recent stool sample with you to your visit. A zippered baggie works well and it is fine if it has litter on it. This will help us not have to obtain one from you cat during the visit. This is important even in strictly indoor cats as even common insects like grasshoppers and small beetles carry parasites and are often hunted by indoor cats.
We will recommend immunizations based on your cat’s age and lifestyle. These will include Rabies, FVRCP (feline distemper and respiratory combo), Leukemia, and AIDS. Not all vaccines may be needed for you cat and some may only be needed every three years. Our veterinarian will discuss this with you during the visit.
We may recommend blood testing for your cat. Kidney disease, diabetes, and liver disease are common in cats. These diseases generally do not cause your cat to act sick until quite advanced. Kidney disease, for example, will not cause any outward symptoms until well over 75% of your cat’s kidneys have stopped working. Periodic blood screening helps us establish normal baselines and track trends in organ values, which helps us early detect many diseases long before your cat may get sick.
Regular urine testing is an important aspect of feline health care. Due to our domestic cats’ adapted lifestyle, urinary conditions have become more and more common. These include mineral crystals that can lead to obstruction, painful bladder inflammation, bacterial infections due to lack of grooming and soiling, and lack of concentration due to early kidney disease. Many of these conditions can be prevented if caught early, and examination of your cat’s urine is an important part.
We will discuss your cat’s weight and nutritional regimen. Obesity is becoming an epidemic in our pet cats and is affecting their long term health and quality of life. Being chronically overweight will lead to diabetes, painful joint disease, lack of grooming and skin disease, chronic inflammation, loss of muscle tone, and a shortened life span. This is also a health problems that only you as the owner can treat as you are the one who feeds your cat. Type of food, nutrient composition, feeding style, and environmental enrichment all can help reduce the risk of obesity in your cat. We will provide you with the latest information and tools to help you optimize your kitty’s diet.
Ultimately, our goal is to be a trusted source of expert advice and valid scientific information for you so you can make the best healthcare choices for your cat! (end of expand).