Becoming a Cat Friendly Hospital
Submitted by Judy Ling, RVT
Royal York Animal Hospital, Etobicoke, Canada
We are a small animal practice for dogs and cats, and we always saw more canines than felines. We knew that something had to be done to attract our feline patients. A lot of our clients had dogs and cats in the household and when we mentioned that they should bring their cats in for veterinary care their response was all the same - “can’t get them into the carrier,” “cries all the way to the hospital,” and it’s “too stressful for their cat and for them.”
That is when we discovered the Cat Friendly Practice® Program. We knew that this was something the hospital could provide to help our clients with these common struggles.
When the Program was reviewed we immediately put a small group of team members together to start on this project. We put together new protocols and procedures and redesigned one of our exam rooms to become the Feline Friendly room. When we met all the criteria, the application was sent in and we achieved the Silver status for a Cat Friendly Practice®. Once we had that, the next step was to integrate this Program with the rest of the staff. Everyone was on board right away as they saw the value and a way to help get our feline patients into the practice.
We started advertising that we became a Cat Friendly Practice® on our website and posting on social media. Within a few weeks, after we obtained the designation, we had new and current clients asking what this meant and all of our staff were able to answer their questions. Our cat clients were impressed that we took the extra steps to make sure that their family member was not stressed and welcomed the suggestions to reduce stress at home and on the way to the hospital. We have clients now requesting the Feline Friendly Room for their cat. We put cats that would normally come in either hissing or really scared in the Feline Friendly room and we have noticed a change in their behavior - they seem more relaxed and not as stressed. When clients see this, they know they have brought their beloved cat to the right place. The place that takes the time with their stressed family member, going slowly so it gives the cat time to adjust to new surroundings and new people.
This was the best decision that the hospital made and it is still going strong today. We see more feline patients and clients who never mentioned they have cats are bringing them in now. Our clients really appreciate all the advice and extra effort we take to make sure their cat is comfortable and less stressed. If you are a clinic still deciding on becoming a Cat Friendly Practice®, I would highly recommend it. Not only will it bring you new clients and patients, but your clients will appreciate the extra effort and time you spend with their beloved family members.