Cat-friendly practices see 2.6 percent increase in cat visits

Clinics that make an effort to increase the feline friendliness of their practices can expect to see a small increase in cat visits as well as revenue from those visits, according to results from a CATalyst pilot program.


The program, called the Cat Friendly Practice Makeover, was a pilot program organized by CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats. Seventeen practices participated in the pilot initiative; of those 17, data from 16 of those practices was used in survey results.


CATalyst Council released the results of its pilot program at the Western Veterinary Conference (WVC) Feb. 20, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nev.


Participating practices showed a 2.6 percent increase in year-on-year cat visits, while non-participating clinics showed a decrease of 2 percent in cat visits during the same period of time.


The program, which started about a year and a half ago, was designed to increase feline visits and prepare hospitals to provide exceptional service when receiving feline-owning clients.


“Both in execution and results, we exceeded expectations,” said Alexis Nahama, DVM, 2012 chair of CATslyst Council. “These results show that we can change the current trend with current clients.”


Nahama said the results of the study are presented with a 95 percent confidence level.


The Council said that with staff training and support, adoption of standardized feline standards of care and ongoing client education practices, the 16 practices were all able to see a slight increase in feline visits while non-participating practices experienced a decrease.


Cats weren’t the only ones to benefit from the practice makeover.


One participating clinic testified that the makeover “even spilled over into better care for our dog patients.”


“We did a cat initiative and it helped across the board,” said Jane Brunt, DVM, executive director of the Council. “It was all very feel-good for everyone who participated.”


Brunt said CATalyst’s shelter partners play key roles in improving the care of all cats.


“We have always known from the beginning that shelter care is a key player in the cat initiatives,” Brunt said. “We want to look at what we can do to promote shelters and getting cats into homes.”


CATalyst’s Cat Friendly Practice Makeover fits in with its Top to Top program, a program emphasizing community outreach to improve collaboration between veterinarians and shelters in order to increase cat adoptions and promote lifetime veterinary care.


Brunt referenced what she saw as a silo between the veterinary and the shelter communities, two separate, isolated bubbles. Improving care for cats, Brunt said, requires collaboration between both the veterinary and shelter sides.


“We’re intertwined in what we do,” Brunt said. “The shelter community and the veterinarians both stand to gain from this.”


A member of the Partnership for Preventive Pet Health, Brunt says the Council is working to reach out to various communities and enlist resources that will help it achieve its goals.


“It’s with everyone working together that we can continue to create change,” Brunt said.


Going forward, Brunt says CATalyst plans to seek publication in peer-reviewed journals and distribute the results with media and sponsors.


“We don’t want this to stay in Vegas – we want the word to get out,” Brunt told the crowd. “What happens in Vegas, please don’t let it stay in Vegas.”