One of the groups that impresses me the most is the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). Their work, through the Catalyst Council and the Cat Friendly Practice Initiative, is improving the health and well being of cats everywhere.
After what I learned from the Cat Friendly Practice Initiative, I was appalled by the way we handled cats when I was a veterinary assistant.
Back in the day, the logic was that the cat had to have a blood draw, or a vaccine, or whatever treatment we were trying to accomplish, and the cat was never going to like it, so if the cat was struggling or fearful, they had to be tightly restrained and forced to do what was required. This was amazingly stressful for the cats.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners and the Cat Friendly Practice Initiative are working to end those days once and for all.
Now we know cats respond to gentle handling much better than forceful restraint. I have amazed pet owners when I gently cock their kitty’s hips to the side and we draw blood uneventfully while I pet their cat’s chin. Cat owners are amazed by their cat sitting still and comfortable for a blood draw.
Just as humans who are terrified of the dentist can now find dentists specializing in sedation dentistry, cats who are too scared of the veterinarian to allow gentle handling can benefit from safe sedation techniques as well.
Above all, we want minimize the fear our feline friends experience. The Cat Friendly Practice certification program requires participating veterinarians to take certain steps to make cats happier in their practices. Our hospital is working toward certification right now.
The Catalyst Council is doing equally amazing things.
This week at the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) Conference they were telling me about veterinarian/rescue partnerships they are creating to make sure every newly adopted cat gets regular vet visits.
Many people assume cats do not need regular veterinary care if they seem healthy. Yet cats are excellent at hiding signs of illness and often don’t act sick until it is much too late to help them. Creating a good relationship early on with a cat friendly vet is vital to keeping cats happy and healthy.
The Catalyst Council also provides great feline educational information on their website.
All cat lovers should look into and take advantage of these organizations. Find your cat a certified Cat Friendly Practice and check out the resources available through the Catalyst council. If you work in rescue, look into the programs the Catalyst council has to help cats in your area.
In the comments section, share what you are doing in your life to make a difference in the lives of cats!