Two Cat Friendly practices share how they keep their feline patients happy without a complete clinic overhaul.
Excuses, we've heard a few. Veterinary practice owners, managers and team members have lots of reasons why they can't change the way they do things to make it easier for cats to be welcomed, calmed and cured.
But two veterinarians at American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Cat Friendly Practices are here to help. Let's get to solving!
“I'm not the owner-just an associate. And the current owner won't do any [feline] marketing and won't spend extra money. We have a lack of space and I'm the only cat-compassionate staff member."
OK, you're not the boss, and the boss won't spend money. That's aggravating. Go for low-cost options first, says Yvonne Laurence Lemieux, DVM, of VCA Riverside Veterinary Hospital in Boscawen, New Hampshire. How about starting with feline-friendly cat boxes?
“We use the boxes from shipments to the clinic and put a box in a cat cage with a towel in it. It doesn't cost the clinic anything extra and you can recycle the boxes when your kitty patients are gone,” Dr. Lemieux says. “You could probably contact your Ceva representative to see if they have any Feliway wipe samples that you can wipe the cages down with beforehand too.”
“What's so frustrating is that we have a separate cat area [in reception], but it gets taken over by obnoxious dogs and no one enforces it as a quiet area."
You need backup. Find someone-maybe multiple someones-at your hospital who loves cats, too. Valley Oak Veterinary Center in Chico, California, has a separate cat waiting area, and the clinic's cat-friendly staff members help enforce the area's feline-only status, says Michelle Lawson, DVM.
“We have a reception area ‘Kitty Committee,' and members meet with the reception team to remind them that the Kitty Lounge is cats only, all day, every day,” Dr. Lawson says. “We are a general, specialty and emergency clinic that doesn't close so we had to keep things simple and easy. It was tempting to let things slide when there were no cat clients in the reception area, but the lines became a little fuzzy. It was easier to remember ‘No dogs at all' than only when the space was free.”
The Kitty Committee there has also put in place Cat Friendly training requirements for all team members (just the cost of time to learn!) and a duty to be attentive to housekeeping in the cat area.
“We have a designated person to monitor the seating area daily for housekeeping, stocking privacy towels for carriers and client brochures,” Dr. Lawson says. “This extra personal attention helps with awareness in general. The reception team can still feel a little sheepish from time to time about relocating dogs, but they are more diligent with support and training behind them.”