3 reasons cat owners say "no" to dental procedures

June 28, 2016
Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM, CVA
Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM, CVA

Dr. Felsted is a CPA as well as a veterinarian and has spent the last 15 years working as a financial and operational consultant to veterinary practices and the animal health industry. She also spent three years with the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues as CEO. She has written an extensive number of articles for a wide range of veterinary publications and speaks regularly at national and international veterinary meetings. She is the current treasurer of VetPartners, a member of the Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board, a member of the CVPM board of directors and the current treasurer of the CATalyst Council. In 2011, she was awarded the Western Veterinary Conference Practice Management Continuing Educator of the Year and in 2014, the VetPartners Distinguished Life Member Award.Dr. Felsted enjoys exotic international travel, and when the dvm360 team last heard from her, she was headed to the Galapagos.

And ... we wouldn't leave you hanging just with the problems! Here's advice to tackle this trio of Dr. Karen Felsted-identified roadblocks at your veterinary practice in this new video from CVC.

Dr. Karen Felsted, owner of PantheraT Consulting in Dallas, Texas, has practiced veterinary medicine, owned veterinary clinics, consulted in veterinary practices and spearheaded efforts to create and manage data to help hospitals for decades. So she knows some of your pain when it comes to talking up the importance of dentistry.

"Dentistry hasn't really grown that much in the past 20 years for all the talking we've done at meetings and in magazines," she observes.

Harsh. And the reasons, she thinks, are simple but powerful, and she covers them in the video at the end of this article. But we could not resist trying to point you to resources to help tackle these three common cat-owner concerns that hold them back from agreeing to needed feline dental work.


PROBLEM 1: "Cat owners are reluctant to bring their cats in for anything."

SOLUTION: Many cat owners hate bringing their cats to the veterinarian, because cats hate coming. First step? Cultivate a generation of cats who don't hate the carrier-or don't hate it as much as they could.

Start with a client handout: "How to habituate your cat to a carrier."

Watch these videos from Emily Korber, RVT, and Margie Scherck, DVM, DABVP.


PROBLEM 2: "For pet owners, anesthesia is scary."

SOLUTION: They're not a veterinarian like Felsted, so they don't know how safe anesthesia can be and how infrequent complications are.

First, is anesthesia at your practice as safe as it could be? Here are five important pointers, good for a refresher, as well as a link to a long discussion about the ever-evolving role of butorphanol in feline pain control.

Second, even your team members can help explain how safe anesthesia is. Read this for proof-and pass it along to the whole team.


PROBLEM 3: "Cat owners can be more sensitive to cost than dog owners."

SOLUTION: Data shows cat owners, in general, see veterinarians less and are the beneficiaries of fewer veterinary healthcare dollars than their canine counterparts.

The first step is convincing clients that cats need the care.

Start getting past clients' bias against spending money on cats with this dvm360 Leadership Challenge.

A good second step? Try Felsted and Jessica Goodman Lee's plan to make every month Dental Health Month at your practice.

Finally, if your problem with talking about money is you get a little tongue-tied when a cat owner snaps back so quickly with a "no" or "that's so much," try on these talk-focused "7 steps to better veterinary dental recommendations."