The Cat Friendly Practice Program: You now have a “cat clinic” in Canton!

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Our team at Riverstone Animal Hospital is proud to announce that we have received Gold-status Cat Friendly Practice certification by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP)!
The Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) program was initiated by the American Association of Feline Practitioners in order to improve the health and well-being of cats after the emergence of some alarming statistics about the level of health care of our feline friends.

In the U.S., cats are the clear pet of choice, with many more owned cats than dogs (86 million cats versus 78 million dogs). Cats have a very unique evolutionary history as being solitary hunters, both predator and prey, and obligate carnivores. As a result of this, they have unique behavioral, nutritional, health care needs. When these are not met, health and behavior problems can arise, including obesity, joint disease, urinary tract disease, aggression, and inappropriate litter box habits.
Yet, when it comes to our cat’s health, we don’t always treat them the same as dogs.

Consider these statistics:
• Almost twice as many cats than dogs never visit the veterinarian
• Of the cats that do visit the veterinarian, they average 26 percent fewer visits than dogs
• 58% of cat owners report that their cat hates going to the veterinarian
• 38% of cat owners report that they get stressed just thinking about bringing their cat to the veterinarian.
• 56% of cat owners would have brought their cat to the vet more often had they known it could have helped to prevent problems.

Navigating the Veterinary Visit
Stress is one of the top reasons for lack of or skipped visits for cats. Owners report that the stress of transporting their pets to the veterinarian, along with the cat’s reluctance to enter the carrier or a new and unfamiliar environment, causes anxiety for cats and their owners. Both feel anxiety and stress before they even set foot in the office. Once in the office, there are other potential stressors including dogs or other cats in the waiting area, staff who do not know how to handle cats, and a more dog-focused environment.

Certified Cat Friendly Practices (CFPs) are the antidote to stressful veterinary visit for cats.

CFPs Elevate the Standard of Care
CFPs are sensitive to cats’ distinct characteristics and equipped to address their physical and behavioral needs, thereby increasing cat owner awareness, comfort level for the cat, and ultimately improving the health care and longevity of our feline friends.
Veterinarians and their team members who have achieved CFP status regard the practice with an entirely new perspective with the cat in mind. The practice must train staff on the distinct needs of cats and assess their physical environment, as well as the delivery of medical care provided. Each CFP has at least one designated ‘Cat Advocate’ on staff – a knowledgeable professional leader who ensures feline-focused standards are met and being followed.

What to Expect From a CFP?
CFPs consider the unique obstacles cats battle in the waiting and examination rooms, handling of feline patients, attitude and knowledge of staff, and the comfort and concern for cats and their owners. At a CFP-designated clinic, pet owners will experience cat-friendly features such as:

• Skilled staff — Within a CFP, clients will find that the staff is well-versed in feline-friendly handling techniques and can expertly treat frightened cats. Furthermore, the staff is well-trained in alternate techniques to calm an anxious cat and ensure that examinations and procedures do not escalate anxiety.

• Individualized health care plan — As with humans, health issues change as aging occurs. The practice will create a health care plan that is specific to your cat. Getting yearly check-ups, and often more than once a year for older cats, can help a condition or disease so it can be treated early on.

• Low-stress environment — One obvious advantage of a CFP is a physical environment that is all about the cat including special waiting rooms or waiting accommodations, feline-sensitive examination rooms and ward facilities, and equipment for cats.

Other areas that are vetted for cat safety and comfort include the operating room and anesthesia, diagnostic imaging, laboratory facilities, and dentistry.

The decision to seek out a CFP is an important step. As humans, we take great care in searching for health providers who meet our own needs. Now, with the CFP program, it just got a lot easier to find a veterinary practice that is expertly suited to address your cat’s unique needs and to provide you with advice and information that is critical to your cat’s health. Riverstone Animal Hospital is proud to be one of those practices!
Feel free to contact us via phone or email if you have any questions regarding your cat’s care. For more information on the Cat Friendly Practice program and a wealth of other cat-related information, please visit our friends at the AAFP at www.catvets.com/cat-owners.