By Katie Burns
Posted Jan. 1, 2012
The American Association of Feline Practitioners is launching a major program to transform the concept of the cat-friendly practice into a reality at veterinary clinics across the country.
The AAFP is introducing the Cat Friendly Practice Program in mid-January at the North American Veterinary Conference. The CFP Program will provide tools and information to allow clinics to implement the idea of the cat-friendly practice.
"Practitioners really see that there are some problems with how we deal with cats in the practice," said Dr. Elizabeth J. Colleran, 2011 AAFP president. "
"There is a tremendous recognition that while cats are the largest percentage of companion animals in homes, their wellness and other types of veterinary care are much lower than dogs"—partly because feline anxiety is such an impediment to veterinary visits.
The first step of the new CFP Program will be the introduction of a checklist to help clinics become cat-friendly in terms of the configuration of the facility and the delivery of medical care. The AAFP will provide access to the checklist, multimedia educational materials, and other resources at www.catvets.com.
While the AAFP hopes to help clinics make the transition into cat-friendly practices, Dr. Colleran said, each clinic will need a cat advocate who communicates cat-friendly standards throughout the practice.
Dr. Colleran added that an increase in feline veterinary visits is good not only for feline health, but also for practice health.
"This new initiative means business for participating practices," Dr. Colleran said. "The program was created to help increase feline visits by giving practitioners the guidelines and resources they need to build and maintain a practice that is welcoming and prepared to support the distinct needs of felines."
As part of the CFP Program, the AAFP will provide cat-friendly practices with marketing tool kits and will create an online database for cat owners to find cat-friendly practices.
The second phase of the CFP Program will be a campaign targeting cat owners that promotes cat-friendly practices and feline wellness visits.
"Educating cat owners about how to get their cat to the practice, listening to their concerns, and engaging them more can make a considerable difference in decisions about preventive health care and wellness," Dr. Colleran said.
"The thrust of CFP is to create a partnership between the cat owner, the practice, and the veterinary staff so that all are engaged in preventive health care and increasing feline visits to the practice."