Some cat parents may feel that their veterinarian has a lack of feline expertise, which can lead owners to avoid taking their cats to the vet altogether. A 2013 survey from BayerDVM and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) found that 52 percent of cats in the U.S. hadn’t been to the vet for a regular checkup within the past 12 months. The AAFP also reports that almost twice as many cats than dogs never visit the veterinarian.
While cat parents may be trying to spare their pet the stress of visiting a vet office that doesn’t accommodate cats’ needs or simply assume that their healthy-looking cat doesn’t need to see a doctor, it’s important that cats do visit a vet regularly. Annual checkups ensure vaccinations are up to date and offer vets a chance to screen for diseases that may not be immediately evident -- cats are masters at masking injuries and illness.
Since many traditional veterinary offices seem to have an emphasis on canine health and waiting rooms filled with barking dogs, feline-loving veterinarians are increasingly setting up cat-only clinics to better serve the needs of the country’s most popular pet.
Why consider a cat clinic?
Cat clinics aren’t yet on every corner, so you may need to go out of your way to visit one. The effort can be worth it, though, especially if your cat gets extremely anxious when it’s time to see the vet.
Eliminating common cat stressors found in a vet’s office is a major emphasis of these clinics, which strive to provide a cat-friendly environment with features such as:
- Dog-free facilities: no barking in the waiting room, no dog smell in the exam room
- Extra air circulation to reduce scent and pheromones from other cats
- Exam rooms that accommodate cats and don’t have places for your pet to squeeze into and hide out of reach
What difference does a cat clinic veterinarian make?
At a cat clinic the vet – along with everyone on the staff – should be a professed cat lover who can put cats at ease and manage unique cat situations (like when your pet digs those claw into your sweater and refuses to let go for the exam). The vet at your cat clinic should be a professional with deep and extensive understanding of cat anatomy and epidemiology. Having a vet with this expertise can help you spot the subtle signs of injury or illness in cats, who are biologically predisposed to hide pain (to protect themselves in the wild). Early detection and treatment of such problems can save your pet and help you control the cost of medical treatments, which might skyrocket if a condition isn’t treated until it’s in an advanced stage.
Are there any downsides to a cat clinic?
Cat-only medical facilities aren’t for every feline. If you have a cat that doesn’t like other cats, this may not be the place for you – especially if your clinic allows cats to roam freely, which some do. Cat clinics may also be more expensive than general veterinary practices. The hours may not be as flexible, either, which means you’ll need a backup provider who could see your pet during your clinic’s off hours in an emergency.
Is there any certification for cat clinics?
There is no nationwide certification for cat-only clinics. However, the AAFP does offer veterinary practices the option of earning the designation Cat Friendly Practice (CFP), which requires a practice to have a veterinarian who is a member of the AAFP and to have demonstrated dedication to increasing the quality of care that felines receive. You can search for a CFP near you via the AAFP web site.
More on Preventative Health
Maintaining a Healthy Cat Weight
How to Prevent Dental Health Problems in Cats
Pet Insurance Costs and Alternatives
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.