Helping fraidy cats


Could fear on everyone's part-cats, clients, and team members-be the cause of difficult feline veterinary visits?

About a year ago, I wrote my editor's column about my not-so-great experiences taking my cat, Pippa, to the veterinarian. Just a few weeks ago, Pippa and I made our annual trek to the doctor, she protesting the whole way and I battling nerves. In case you don't recall my past column, I revealed that my cat isn't nice at the doctor and, as a result, I don't feel like we've been treated very nicely.

Many of you took issue with me asking team members to withhold jokey comments about my cat's behavior. Others of you were upset because you felt I'd implied technicians should just deal with the fact that my cat might bite or scratch.

Perhaps our failure to connect stems from fear-on all sides. Having just emerged, elated, from a veterinary visit, I can look back and say I was scared: Scared for my cat's well-being, scared of conflict, and scared I'd be labeled a bad pet owner. I'm certain my cat was scared. And I now wonder whether the team members were scared too-for their own safety and reputations.

I never for a moment thought the team members who dealt with my screeching, kicking cat were unqualified. And I never wanted anyone to get hurt. But I did want reassurance. And that's what I got a few weeks ago.

The veterinarian who examined my cat and the technician who assisted acknowledged that Pippa wasn't thrilled. They put a kitty blindfold on her, wrapped her in towel, and explained this made her happier. (They didn't say the towel acted as a barrier between her claws and their arms, but it did.)

Then they proceeded to tell me how beautiful and healthy she was and how happy they were we'd come. They made me feel like a responsible pet owner, and respectfully educated me. (It's not normal for my cat to throw up at least once a week. Who knew?)

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe fear isn't the reason other practices haven't worked out for Pippa and me. Whatever it is, I hope we figure it out. Because our goal is common: great care for dogs and cats alike. If you have ideas for how Firstline can help achieve this, please e-mail me with your suggestions.

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