“Feline Friendly” by Kim Baker, DVM
Cats are spectacular animals – and have spectacular senses! Cats only need about 1/6th the amount of light that we need to see, and can navigate in total darkness using whiskers that are extremely sensitive to air currents and objects that make physical contact with them. Their sense of smell is about 14 times more sensitive than ours, and they even have a scent organ in the roofs of their mouths. Most people know dogs can hear higher pitched noises than we can, but did you know cats can even hear a full octave higher than dogs?
These senses are part of what make cats incredible and also what can make going to the veterinarian an intense experience. Imagine going to the doctor and being able to smell every person who had walked into the building that day and hear animals that could eat you making noises through the walls! Having all these worrisome environmental factors overwhelming your senses on a day when you may already not feel well would be pretty exhausting.
So what do we do at Lien to help make our feline friends more comfortable? As a Feline Friendly Practice, we have specific exam rooms for cats that we utilize when possible. We manage odors by wiping down surfaces between appointments and having cat pheromone diffusers in the rooms. Our staff are trained to recognize feline body language and to handle cats in ways that make them more comfortable and provoke less fear. We have cat treats stocked in every room for cats that are receptive to them. We provide lots of petting and attention to cats that enjoy it, and minimize touching for cats that aren’t in the mood. We also manage noise and reduce harsh lighting as much as possible.
What can you do at home to make your cat’s visit to the vet more comfortable? Locate your cat well before departure and leave early so you don’t have to rush through traffic. Remain positive and as relaxed as possible as your cat will pick up on how you are feeling. Transport your cat in a carrier that has soft bedding with a familiar scent and secure the carrier in the car to avoid movement during transit. When you go back home, give your cat time to rest and re-acclimate before letting other cats in the home interact with them.
Minimizing the stress and anxiety in both us and our cats will enable us to provide them with better health care through regular well visits (which can catch problems early), and calmer sick visits.