It is no secret that I am a cat lover. Don’t get me wrong, dogs are great, too, but

there is a special place in my heart for the furry felines (and the not so furry, for that matter…I’m looking at you sphinxy)! I could go on to say that if they happen to be orange this only ups the ante. The staff here for the most part knows that if there is an orange cat in the facility I am to be notified right away. The technicians have gone out of their way to come out of an exam room to plop an orange cat in my lap, especially when they know I am having a particularly stressful day. I owe my love for cats to my own orange cat, Oliver. I adopted him my first year of vet school, and he has been with me ever since. He was my shadow all throughout vet school; keeping me company while I spent countless hours studying, even if only to sleep on his bed next to my desk till all hours of the night and early morning…and in true cat fashion to often sleep ON my desk or ON my books, keyboard, lap, back of my desk chair, etc. (cat people, you know what I am talking about)!

Now that I am part of the family at Pine Bluff Animal Hospital, I have been working on educating myself about a cat-friendly practice. There are 86 million owned cats in the US and 78 million owned dogs yet there are twice as many cats than dogs that never see a vet. 39% of people say they would only bring their cat to the vet if the cat was sick. It is just as important that a cat sees us at least yearly for health checks and preventative care such as vaccines, fecal tests, etc. Senior cats, cats that go outdoors, have exposure to outdoor cats, or already have chronic diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV or feline AIDS) and/or Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) are among the many that should visit the vet even more frequently than just the basic yearly health checks. Just because a cat is healthy as perceived by their owner does not mean it does not need to see a vet. We see sick AND healthy pets and checking in with our fantastic felines once a year can increase the likelihood that we will catch an early disease state while it is still manageable.

Some of the hallmarks of a cat-friendly practice are found in the waiting room and traced all the way to the very back of the hospital where pets are boarded. Staff that is knowledgeable about the least stressful restraint and handling techniques and understand the little idiosyncrasies of cats can make all the difference in our feline visits. We’ve already made some small changes at our hospitals and will be working towards more in the coming months. My ultimate goal is to increase our feline visits by making them as minimally stressful on our owners AND their special cats. In the meantime, I encourage you to bring your cat in if it hasn’t been seen by a vet in awhile (or ever). And if it is orange…be prepared 🙂

By: Dr. Joachim
Pine Bluff Animal Hospital