Clients often think their indoor-only cats don't need regular veterinary visits. Use these tips to explain the importance of preventive care-and start seeing more felines in your practice.
Recently I was waiting in a Chicago veterinary clinic when a woman leaned over and said, “I have the most beautiful cat in the world.”
“Of course,” I replied. (I mean, what else could I say?)
But curiously this woman only had a dog with her. So I inquired about where the most beautiful cat in the world was.
“At home,” she said. “The cat is indoors and doesn’t need to see a veterinarian.”
Really? How often do hear that from cat owners? While it’s true that indoor-only cats rarely get hit by cars or attacked by coyotes, I argue that cats who live in the lap of luxury may actually be more prone to other problems, such as diabetes mellitus or osteoarthritis—two conditions associated with overweight or obese cats.
You and I both know indoor-only cats require preventive care. But could you use some new ideas for discussing the importance of preventive veterinary care with reluctant cat clients? Try these tactics:
1. Find out if a client has cats at home. I dug into the issue in a veterinary reception area—it’s a perfect topic for the exam room. The “Have we seen your cat lately?” website still offers free clinic kits to promote feline care at your practice. And you can send your client there for more information about the importance of routine veterinary visits for cats.
2. Point out just how wonderfully magical cats are. But explain that cats are like all illusionists—what you see may not be what you get. Often by the time even the most astute cat owner realizes something is amiss, an illness has become far more serious and more costly to treat. Most importantly, the cat was suffering all along and no one knew.
3. Remind pet owners that cats get sick too. Do they know cats get cancer and diabetes as well as kidney, hyperthyroid and heart disease? Sometimes, at least initially, there are no obvious signs or symptoms (see the previous point), and few pet owners have the skills or tools to diagnose their pet at home. Tell your clients about the importance of routine veterinary exams and wellness screens in diagnosing medical conditions.
4. Talk about rapid aging. Not seeing a veterinarian for preventive care once—or ideally twice—annually is like you or I seeing a doctor every four to six years. Don’t hesitate to use this analogy when talking to clients.
5. Help clients get their cats to your office. Many cat owners find it difficult or impossible to physically get their feline friends to the veterinarian, even if they understand how important it is. Work toward a solution by teaching clients how to use a carrier properly. There are several good videos now available on the topic, including these:
6. Make a housecall. It’s my belief that all practices should encourage at least one veterinarian in the hospital to offer regular house calls. Ask the veterinarians at your practice if anyone is interested in taking on this responsibility.
By starting the conversation with clients and giving them the resources they need to get their feline companions the care they need, you’ll be doing your part to help cats live long, healthy lives.