Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is the program very time consuming and difficult to complete?
2. What if I don’t have space for feline-only waiting area?
3. What are the costs involved in becoming a Cat Friendly Practice®?
4. We already consider ourselves feline-friendly. Why should we pursue this designation?
5. How many staff members does my practice need in order to successfully complete this program?
6. How long does it take to get approved and to be listed on the website as a Cat Friendly Practice®?
7. How long does the Cat Friendly Practice® approval last?
8. Will the AAFP continue to provide additional resources and educational materials?
The AAFP understands that veterinary practices are extremely busy and may think that the Cat Friendly Practice® program requires significant implementation or valued staff time. In fact, many practices working towards Cat Friendly Practice status find that they already meet many of the checklist items and the implementation of new items remains limited.
The CFP checklist items can be completed over several weeks or months as the website will automatically save your progress as you go through the process. If you are limited on spare time in the clinic, utilize your staff meetings to serve as a forum to discuss and complete the Cat Friendly Practice® program checklist items. Segmented sections of the checklist can be reviewed during staff meetings and will seem much less daunting when broken down. Your practice may also consider allocating the checklist to multiple staff members. Be sure to get the entire practice involved by assigning team members to complete the different checklist items.
Tips that have worked for other practices:
- Login to the AAFP Member Center to access CFP resources and click the “Manage CFP Application” button.
- Download the CFP checklist and manual. Print the checklist out.
- Ask your Cat Advocate(s) to go through the checklist and check off any of the items they are sure are fulfilled already.
- Ask the Cat Advocate(s) to then go to the practice owner or a veterinarian to ask questions about checklist items that they believe may be fulfilled but are not sure.
- They are then left with a list of checklist items that need to be fulfilled. Discuss these at weekly or bi-weekly staff meetings. This document and the manual, “A Guide to Creating a Cat Friendly Practice®," will provide creative ideas on how to implement these items. Bring this information to the meeting so you can use it in your discussions.
- For items that are more difficult to implement, assign a “Kitty Committee”/Task Force that includes a veterinarian and technician to explore the item more closely. Have the committee present their findings, solutions, and suggestions at the next staff meeting.
- By involving the entire practice, you will have everyone on board with making your clinic a Cat Friendly Practice® and they will be excited to implement new tactics and see increased visits and interest from cat owners!
While the ideal is to have a separate cat-only waiting room. When the cat initially enters the practice it will attempt to assess the safety of this new environment. The waiting area should be a place that minimizes the threats cats may feel (visual, aural, olfactory, etc.). Below are some alternatives for reducing stress in the waiting areas:
- Physical separation in the waiting room so it creates two separate spaces for dogs and cats in one room. Examples: Create seating back to back with tall plants in between,so dogs and cats face opposite walls. Bookshelves, half walls, room dividers/shoji screens, aquariums, or counters can be used to separate the spaces to avoid visual contact. Display clear notices asking clients with dogs to keep them away from the cat areas. Instruct clients to cover the carrier with a large towel to avoid visual contact.
- Use a side entrance or create a separate doorway into the examination room so cats can enter without having to risk an encounter with a dog.
- Schedule routine cat-only appointment times to avoid contact with dogs and create a less stressful environment for cats and owners. Thus at any one time, the waiting room will only be used by either dogs or cats.
- Other creative methods to reduce stress and avoid direct contact with dogs.
- The CFP Program does not have to equate to a construction project. Instead of undergoing a costly renovation to create two separate waiting areas, read about how one clinic decided to think outside the box.
Checklist items such as a designated cat-only waiting area may send up red flags as a huge financial commitment, but many of the checklist items can be easily completed with a little creativity. Be creative about the strategies that you use to make your clinic cat friendly. For example, keeping the waiting room free from excessive noise does not mean that you need to install sound barrier walls. Instead, limit group activities to the back of the clinic and remind all veterinary staff to speak quietly.
Staff are excited to come up with creative solutions and often they already have some ideas in mind. Make sure you check out the CFP Program's database of case studies for some inspiration. If you are having trouble coming up with a creative solution for a checklist item, send an email to AAFP Headquarters to see if there are any suggestions that would work in your practice. Also reach out to your colleagues at AAFP Meetings or by using the Membership Directory. There may be some practices that have come up with unique ideas that you have not thought of yet!
Your practice may already have feline-friendly policies and procedures in place. This is all the more reason to go through and complete the Cat Friendly Practice® program. Since your practice has a feline-friendly culture in place, you have already completed most of the work. Achieving Cat Friendly Practice® status allows your practice the opportunity to appropriately market your practice to potential clients who may not have previously known that your practice is feline-friendly and provides new and innovative suggestions that allow even the most feline-friendly practices to improve in some way. By achieving Cat Friendly Practice® status, your practice can publicly declare your dedication towards improving the care delivered to cats. Here are just a few examples:
You will also have access to resources, marketing tools, educational materials and be listed in an online search. Since you are already an AAFP member, why not go through the process to become a Cat Friendly Practice® so you can have access to these additional resources only available to Cat Friendly Practices®.
The Cat Friendly Practice® program was designed to engage the entire veterinary team of staff. The Cat Friendly Practice® designation can be successfully achieved by large and small practices alike. Although the practice will need to designate one to three ‘Cat Advocates’, everyone on the veterinary healthcare team should understand normal cat behavior and feline handling, as well as be willing to work together to continually improve on the ways they provide care for cats.
The role of the Cat Advocate is a significant, yet not overly demanding role. In order to successfully fulfill this role, the Cat Advocate should be a person who is able to lead the implementation of practice policies and procedures to support a cat-friendly environment and should be a knowledgeable professional who ensures that care is guided by feline-focused standards. Cat Advocates are usually chosen for their experience, empathetic manner, and willingness to help answer cat owner questions.
Once you upload your photos and submit your application, it will be reviewed within two weeks. If further information is needed you will receive an email with specific questions. After you receive your approval email confirmation, you will receive your Cat Friendly Practice® Marketing Toolkit in the mail within two weeks. Please note that it takes 5-10 business days for your practice to be listed in the Cat Friendly Practice® search online.
The approval is good for three years from the date of the approval email confirmation. During that time, your practice must maintain a veterinarian membership with the AAFP. If the membership changes to another person, you must inform the AAFP at email@example.com to be sure that the Cat Friendly Practice® status is switched to the new member so the practice continues to be listed on the website.
Yes, the AAFP believes that practices need to continue to receive support and educational materials on an ongoing basis. In the future the AAFP will be:
- Sending a bi-monthly E-newsletter to each Cat Friendly Practice®. The Cat Advocate(s) and AAFP member will receive a bi-monthly email with new information, tools, educational materials and resources that can be utilized in your practice.
- Continue developing videos to teach the veterinary team. View current videos.
- Creating educational presentations to be offered at AAFP Conferences, AAFP Tracks at other major veterinary conferences, and through complimentary member webinars. Access the AAFP’s Webinar Portal.
- Additional resources and materials are continuously being developed including promotion to cat owners. Access a list of ready-to-use cat owner educational brochures and flyers.
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