The F-word


Don't let 'feline' be a bad word in your veterinary practice.

Felines. They hide their illnesses and injuries, and they hate coming to see you. If you're a dog person, you may have mixed feelings yourself about seeing them. And as for their owners, well, how many times have you heard, after presenting your treatment estimate, “Seriously? It's just a cat!” So there are many reasons cats aren't living the healthiest lives possible. In fact, we believe that if these noble (but often hilarious)creatures are going to get the care they need to live long, comfortable lives, it's pretty much up to you-regardless of your feelings toward felines, no one else is going to advocate for them the way you can.

dvm360 survey takes the feline pulse

We started this Leadership Challenge by asking you-our readers-a number of cat-related questions: what's the status of the feline portion of your practice, how do you personally feel about cats, and what are your protocols and practices are for feline pain. (And just because we were curious, we asked about declawing.) We received responses from 784 veterinarian readers.

Some interesting results: Despite the intense level of activism surrounding feline onychectomy, most of you are still providing declaws. We know that many of you would prefer not to, but you're also pragmatists who would rather keep a cat out of a shelter and provide top-level pain control. Also, while 97 percent of you say you personally like cats, almost 20 percent of you don't own a single feline. And finally, you fall into two almost equally proportioned groups: those who like both species equally and those who prefer cats or dogs over the other.

You'll find this and more on the following pages. Read on for more feline facts!


Source: 2015 dvm360 Feline Care Survey

Source: 2015 dvm360 Feline Care Survey

Cat tips from dvm360 readers

Below and on the following pages are ideas from participants in our dvm360 Feline Care Survey on ways veterinarians are-or could-make their practices more feline-friendly.

  • We designated a feline day once a week.

  • Provide sedation for fractious cats (pretreat with gabapentin)

  • Offer a welcoming atmosphere and cat-loving employees-we need to talk “cat talk.”

  • We could make it easier for people to bring their cats to us, such as open scheduling-”Come in when you catch them.”

  • Ask dog owners about their cats' health.

Read about how Dr. Jeff Werber, a veterinarian in California who says he was probably a dog in a former life, steals the hearts of cat owners in his practice.


Source: 2015 dvm360 Feline Care Survey

Source: 2015 dvm360 Feline Care Survey

Source: 2015 dvm360 Feline Care Survey

Cat tips from dvm360 readers

  • People need to be aware that routine visits and laboratory work may extend their cats' lives.

  • Talk to clients during visits about cat facts, medical advice, and fun stuff about cats-it strengthens the bond with the doctor.

  • Say, “Cats don't always let us know when they don't feel well.”

  • I review the client's file and ask about other pets in the household, and I briefly discuss the benefit of wellness exams for all the pets. Too often the dogs are getting medical care and the cats are being overlooked. We have a great opportunity to both educate and schedule services by making this part of every visit.

Offer taxi service.

Do you prefer canines in your heart of hearts? Maybe it's time to considering going dog-only. This veterinarian did-and she's loving it.


Source: 2015 dvm360 Feline Care Survey

Source: 2015 dvm360 Feline Care Survey

Cat tips from dvm360 readers

  • We are a certified Cat Friendly Practice by the AAFP.

  • We've made our clinic more comfortable and “quirky”-less hospital-like.

  • We embraced the “Have we seen your cat lately?” campaign, complete with T-shirts and a cat-friendly lobby.

  • We make feline nutrition recommendations that no other veterinarians seem to know about.

Fear-Free Tips

If you'd rather face anything other than that howling banshee from the netherworld in exam room one-you know, that banshee named Muffin-then it's time to visit the Fear-Free Center on

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