Cat owners, it’s safe to say that while most of us understand the value of visiting the vet regularly for our cat’s healthcare needs, we also know from experience that these visits to the vet can be very stressful for both our furry friend and ourselves.
Cats feel safe and at ease when they have control over their surroundings, and they like their environment to always be constant, in which everything is familiar and unchanged. Once taken out of their familiar surroundings to a place with unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smell, cats become anxious and/or fearful, so here’s how you can make a visit to the vet less taxing: by choosing a Cat Friendly Clinic.
Cat Friendly Clinic is a worldwide certification program of the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), an organisation whose vision is ‘All cats, both owned and unowned, are treated with care, compassion, and understanding’.
To achieve this vision, the ISFM is dedicated to engaging the veterinary profession to improve feline care, providing information to owners and carers of cats to improve welfare, and working to improve the welfare of unowned cats.
To be certified a Cat Friendly Clinic, a clinic must meet all the requirements mandated by ISFM. These ensure a high standard of healthcare, the creation of an environment that calms and comforts cats, and training to handle cats with gentleness and with techniques that de-escalate and minimise stress.
In other words, a Cat Friendly Clinic is one that is dedicated to providing healthcare that is exclusive to cats. All staff of a Cat Friendly Clinic are “cat people” who understand that cats are different from dogs, with a unique need for a calming environment to feel safe when away from home and its familiarities!
Since a cat-dedicated clinic only accepts cat patients, your kitty will not be stressed or agitated by barking dogs, chirping budgies, squawking parrots, rabbits, guinea pigs, or hamsters.
Cats become anxious when they are taken out of their home and transported to unfamiliar environments where they will encounter new sights, sounds, and smells. By the time you arrive at the clinic, your cat would already be experiencing some degree of anxiety.
This is because of their instinctual need for predictability and control of their environment, which are survival mechanisms inherited from their ancestor, the African wildcat. On top of that, in spite of domestication and the formation of strong bonds with humans, many cats today still retain the behaviour and sensory characteristics of their ancestors, which includes a solitary lifestyle with minimal socialising, living in a well-defined territory, having an acute hearing and smell, and so on.
Taking into account these characteristics, a cat-friendly clinic is designed to calm the cat and make it feel safe and comfortable before it enters the examination room. This is done via vibration-proof flooring, installing calming pheromone diffusers, and playing piped music that was specially created by a sound researcher and a classically-trained pianist to calm cats. In addition, staff will ensure that patients in the waiting room are spaced apart and positioned such that every cat is shielded from visual and physical contact with other patients.
Together, all these measures also prepare the cat for a less stressful examination, because calming the cat before it enters the examination room will bring down the rise in blood pressure caused by anxiety and allow the vet to carry out a more extensive and thorough physical examination. Procedures like the collection of diagnostic samples such as blood will be easier and possible without sedation or restraining measures, the latter which may further increase the cat’s stress levels.
The Cat Friendly Clinic certification requires vets and nurses to keep up-to-date in their knowledge of all aspects of feline health and diseases. Because of this, an accredited Cat Friendly Clinic will be able to provide you with accurate and reliable advice to keep your cat healthy and happy, practice medicine and perform surgeries based on current knowledge, and use the latest diagnostic tests and protocols to give you the best outcome possible!
At a Cat Friendly Clinic, the staff have been trained to think like cats. This allows them to understand what stresses a cat and will always interact with your cat in a way that minimises its anxiety, always mindful to make each visit a pleasant one for your feline friend so that it won’t be averse to future visits to the clinic.
The staff will also gladly impart some of these cat-handling knowledge to you so that you can understand your kitty better and be able to calm and comfort your cat on your own whenever needed!
Most veterinary clinics carry a few veterinarian-approved pet products such as specially-formulated food and health supplements, which pet owners can browse through when waiting for their turn to be called at the clinic.
Similarly, a cat-dedicated clinic will have some veterinarian-approved general wellness products for cats available, which may not necessarily be stocked in an interspecies veterinary clinic since the latter has to cater to a wider range of pets.
While it’s not a must to bring your cat to a cat-exclusive clinic, it certainly does have its benefits. Taking your feline friend to a Cat Friendly Clinic will give you peace of mind, because the clinic has assured, high-quality standards for healthcare, facilities, and handling techniques, and the environment is tailored to and staff are trained to minimise stress for your cat, which in turn improves diagnosis and treatment of your kitty!
The staff will also be able to explain your cat’s treatment and recovery clearly and can impart cat-handling knowledge to you, so that you can understand everything there is to know about your kitty better. This will make not just vet visits, but your everyday life, in general, more pleasant and comfortable for both pet and owner.
One ISFM Cat Friendly Clinic that is highly-raved and supported by many cat owners here in Singapore is The Cat Clinic, which is also the first-ever cat-dedicated clinic on our shores! Birthed from the love for cats and the desire to rescue and treat them, especially the fussy and geriatric kitties, The Cat Clinic is a branch of The Animal Clinic, which has been providing quality healthcare for pets since 1979.
A kitty, Rufus, at The Cat Clinic
With a team of veterinarians and staff skilled in meeting the physical, mental, and emotional needs of their feline patients, the clinic is equipped with everything needed to make cats feel at ease. Soft surfaces on examination tables, cat towers, and more are commonplace at this peaceful, quiet cat haven, and reviews about how knowledgeable, experienced, gentle, and skilled the vets are with cats are aplenty on their social media platforms.
Currently, The Cat Clinic is offering teleconsultations and telemedicine in view of safe-distancing measures, unless a physical trip down to the clinic is advised by their veterinarians. If you’re ever in need of medical advice concerning your cat do not hesitate to reach out to them at https://animalclinicsg.smart.vet/. Alternatively, if you wish to enquire about scheduling a vaccination or sterilisation, you may leave a direct message on their Facebook page or give them a call and they will advise you on the nearest possible date.
Address: Blk 109 Clementi Street 11 #01-17/19
Tel: 6873 0014 / 6873 0024
After-hours emergency: 6333 5550