How to Choose a Cat-Friendly Veterinary Practice

You lure your cat into the carrier and cart her off to the veterinarian. She loudly meows her disapproval the entire trip. You walk into a clinic, busy with motion and noise, scaring your already over-anxious kitty. The smells frighten her.

In the examination room, the veterinarian pulls her from the carrier (possibly by the scruff of her neck) or dumps her onto the table. She is then whisked away from you to be checked and injected. During the ride home, she is too terrorized to even squeak her complaints.

No wonder you don’t visit your veterinarian very often. It terrorizes your cat and upsets you!

That’s not how it is done at Veterinary Services of Aiken. Dr. Holly Woltz and her team give special attention to these unique creatures. They are the first veterinary hospital in the CSRA community to achieve the highest level, Gold Standard, Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) certification from the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Here are 5 ways to determine whether your veterinarian is cat-friendly:

1. They cater to cats. The veterinary clinic should offer a tranquil, cat-only examination room and a separate waiting area for cat patients. Ideally, the clinic should have toys, cubby holes to hide, shelves and a jungle gym to encourage curiosity and distract the cat patient during a visit. The clinic should also dim their lights, and have pheromone sprays and a diffuser at the clinic to calm down and lower the stress levels of your cat.

2. The veterinary team shows kindness towards your cat. The team should talk softly, stroke with gentle hands and offer treats. The visit is not rushed. The cat slowly acclimates to the examination room after walking out of the carrier on its own accord. Helpful hints to transport your cat, even offering anti-anxiety medication, are given prior to the appointment.

3. The team is well educated about all aspects of cat care. Cats are unique and independent predators. Cats hide illnesses because they do not want to show weakness or appear vulnerable. The number of meals, dietary requirements, litter box habits, geriatric signs, diseases and behaviors differ greatly from dogs.

4. The team enjoys their cat patients. Many veterinarians love cats in the abstract but do not enjoy treating them. They are small, athletic and fast predators. They are more difficult to handle and treat.

5. They do not recommend declawing. Declawing is not nail trimming. It is the amputation of the last joint where the nail grows from. It is an ethically controversial procedure and not medically necessary in most situations. There are many alternatives to declawing, such as scratching posts, trimming nails, synthetic nail caps, environmental enrichment and pheromones to relieve anxiety or stress. A veterinarian should helpfully counsel cat owners.

Veterinary Services does all of the above and more for their cat patients. They know cats and appreciate their eccentricities. If you haven’t taken your cat in for a yearly veterinary visit, contact them at 803-648-5489 or visit so they, too, can love your cat.