5 feline-friendly dos and don'ts for a successful exam


Ensure cats get the veterinary care they deserve by alleviating fear and stress in your practice.

You might have the best equipment or the most successful practice in your area, but if you’re not treating your feline patients with the care and respect they deserve, your clients might not return.

“Clients judge how we interact with their cats,” says Dr. Ilona Rodan, DABVP, founder of the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wis. “They don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care—for their cat and them.”

So to make sure you’re appealing to your clients and performing the best patient care possible, here are a few dos and don’ts to consider when a cat arrives in your practice:

Do: Take the cat and the owner directly to the exam room instead of having them wait in the reception area. Cats are easily frightened by the increased activity and noise in this area.

Don’t: Shake the cat out of the carrier or reach in and pull the animal out once you’ve got it in the exam room. Instead, if the cat is calm and not hissing or lunging in the carrier, open the carrier door and allow it to explore the room while you talk to the owner and collect the patient history.

Do: Allow the cat to be examined where she wants. Try conducting your exam on the floor, on a bench or shelf, or even on a lap if that’s where the cat is most comfortable. Cats may also enjoy being examined on a familiar blanket or towel from their carrier, which already has their scent on it, so don’t hesitate to use those.

Don’t: Use tight restraint, such as stretching or scruffing, when examining or collecting lab samples from a cat. Instead, utilize towel techniques to reduce reactivity and fear and foster a calming environment. Also, follow a “less is more” mentality and try to use just one handler per cat.

Do: Use treats, toys, catnip and calm praise to make the experience a positive one for your patient. The cat—and the client—will appreciate the effort.

By adopting a more feline-friendly handling approach in your practice, you can increase client compliance and satisfaction and improve patient care—a win-win situation for everyone.

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