Considerations for Postpandemic Cat Patients: 5 Things You Can Do Now to Help Future Felines

Can current challenges remind us how to provide the best veterinary experience for feline patients? Consider these five steps to keep your practice feline friendly once the doors reopen.

Update your practice’s aesthetic with some feline flair.

Erin Dresner, DVM, DABVP (Feline)

Closing our doors to clients is one of the most palpable changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Once hubs of bustling energy, hospital lobbies transformed into hushed environments absent of the camaraderie accompanying favorite clients. It seems too quiet, too calm. But your feline patients are loving it. Can current challenges remind us how to provide the best veterinary experience for feline patients? Consider the following steps to keep your practice feline friendly once the doors reopen.

1. Reconsider the Flow

Test out various scheduling scenarios to benefit your feline patients. Cat-only hours or days can help reduce stimulating noise and scents that are normally present. Or book serial feline appointments rather than scheduling cats after dogs. Finally, help feline patients avoid the lobby altogether—encourage feline owners to call upon their arrival, wait in their car until the exam room is available, and then escort the client and their cat into the room immediately.

2. Revamp the Exam

Explore your exam from the feline perspective. Ideally, the exam occurs in a designated feline-only room devoid of tricky hiding spots such as cupboards, tight spaces under chairs, or the area behind the computer monitor. Provide an appropriate hiding spot that can be accessed during the exam. Implement a closed-door policy for feline exams to limit traffic in and out of the room—prepare the room with all necessary equipment, perform procedures such as venipuncture and ultrasound in the room if possible, and offer in-room discharge or checkout procedures.

3. Refined Feline Design

Is your practice enjoying a COVID cleaning spree? Update your hospital’s aesthetic with some feline flair. It may seem trivial, but your feline-loving clients notice your nods to cat-centricity. Photos of cats, cat-only contests, feline social media content, books, feline certificates, and recognition of feline aficionados among your staff highlight your dedication to the species. Consider personal effects as well—a timely accessory that is easy to “catify” is your facial mask. A transparent face shield may be even less intimidating to feline patients, as they will appreciate the ability to see your slow blinks and calming facial expressions.

Don’t let COVID become yet another excuse to skip feline wellness visits.

4. Encourage Cat Owners to Return to the Practice

Don’t let COVID become yet another excuse to skip feline wellness visits. A personal phone call to your feline-owning clients will go a long way to bridge the distance, especially as many clients are staying home. Suggest calming solutions that can be achieved at home before the visit even begins, such as pheromones, carrier acclimation, and anxiety-reducing medications. A pre-appointment email with tips may help.

Remember that clients themselves may be anxious about the visit. This is a great time to point out safety measures the practice has implemented. Connect with your clients via social media or a weekly newsletter to provide reassurance that your team cares. When the hospital is ready to open again, invite clients to tour the many feline upgrades added during the closure.

5. Continuing Education in the Time of COVID

Fortunately, several virtual feline-friendly continuing education options exist. The American Association of Feline Practitioners recently launched its Cat Friendly Certificate Program for veterinarians and staff. This program is similar to the Cat Friendly Practice Program. Additionally, online CE webinars addressing feline topics are available. 

Much to our feline patients’ chagrin, the doors will open and lobbies will resume their normal bustle. But with a little effort, you can extend the COVID calm for your clients and their cats.

Erin Dresner
Erin Dresner, DVM, DABVP (Feline), is a board-certified feline specialist located in Montgomery, Texas. She is a graduate of Western University of Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, and is certified in veterinary medical acupuncture. She currently serves as a specialty telemedicine consultant for VetNOW.

 

Photo credits: LindaMarieB/iStock via Getty Images Plus

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