American Association of Feline Practitioners

Veterinary professionals passionate about the care of cats

Cat Friendly Practice® Program Stories - Earlysville Animal Hospital

Earlysville Animal Hospital is proud to be a Cat Friendly Practice® for 10 years

Submitted by Kathi Gruss, DVM
Earlysville Animal Hospital, Earlysville, VA

Our practice focused on meeting the behavioral needs of our patients for over 20 years. We found great behavior resources for dogs with the help of an associate who trained in behavior in Australia. We already work in a quiet environment with soft music and use minimal restraint, kind and gentle handling, lots of treats, and sedation exams as needed for canine patients but our knowledge about feline patients lagged.  

When the Cat Friendly Practice® Program was initiated, I was already a member and big fan of the AAFP. With Cat Friendly Practice® and the AAFP, we learned how to better serve our feline patients. We continue to evolve to be better feline caretakers. The bonus is everyone is happier and safer - the patient, the client, and the veterinarians and staff.  

We have learned how to all be on a team that focuses on what is best for the cat. Doing that may not be the quickest way to get things done, but it is the best for the patient, client, staff, and the hospital.  

We have clients drive past many other animal hospitals to bring their cats to us because of the care we give and the Cat Friendly Practice® Program has helped shape how we do things.  

One of the first changes we made was putting portals in all our cages so each cat had a separate space for its litter pan.  

We made a cat-only space in our waiting room and trained the clients on how to use it. We added Feliway sprayed towels and a table for the cat carrier. Now, we skip the waiting room completely for cats and send them straight to a cat-only exam room from the parking lot.  

Next, we learned what kind and gentle handling meant for cats. Feliway, a towel to hide under, yummy treats, and allowing them to stay in their carriers are all helpful. We quit scruffing cats. We try to make them as comfortable as possible all the time. We try to listen to the cat and do their exams in the best way for each cat. 

We have trained our clients and staff about the benefits of pre-meds, proper cat carriers, and how to get to the practice with their feline patients. We educate clients about how we do things and that the cat is ultimately in charge of what we can get done today. If the cat says “no,” we change what we are doing or come back another day.  

We used to do cat declawing procedures and began giving clients other options. By the time we quit doing it all together, clients were no longer asking for the procedure.  

We have Cat Friendly information on our website and in the hospital. We are proud to be a Cat Friendly Practice® and let clients know why we do things the way we do. They appreciate the extra effort.  

I love having the information at Cat Friendly Homes available for our clients ( What a fabulous resource of excellent advice so Cat Friendly becomes a way of life.  

Becoming a Cat Friendly Practice® takes time, effort, and training for veterinarians, staff, and clients. I honestly think every practice that cares for any cats should make this effort so they offer the best care to every cat. It improves every aspect of cat care. 

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