Cat-friendly message targets public

AAFP continues its message of awareness, preventive medicine
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The American Association of Feline Practitioners’ efforts to help clinics become more cat-friendly continue to gain momentum while the association is ramping up efforts to better connect with cat owners.

The AAFP rolled out the public outreach phase of the Cat Friendly Practice Program earlier this year. The cat owner campaign includes two key concepts: Educate pet owners on the benefits of routine veterinary care, and increase awareness on the value of visiting a Cat Friendly Practice.

The association is promoting this through advertisements, radio shows, and social media. Tools and resources for practices to help market themselves have also been made available here. Specifically, clinic owners can download six print-ready booklets or order hard copies from the AAFP here.

The CFP Program will continue to develop resources and client materials for practices, including e-newsletters and videos, as well as continue with the marketing campaign to reach both veterinary teams and cat owners.

As of October, 1,143 practices had started the process to become a Cat Friendly Practice. Of those, 463 were already approved CFPs.

Dr. Elizabeth J. Colleran, spokeswoman for the CFP Program, said, “Even for my feline-only practice, which was feline-friendly, the structure of the CFP Program helps to indicate areas in your practice that can be strengthened. The team approach brings focus to the goal of making every effort to improve the visit for the cat and owner.”

In survey responses from those who are already working in a CFP, 91 percent said the process to create a CFP was fairly to extremely easy.

A continual learning process

The association’s membership has grown 39 percent in the past two years, thanks largely to the CFP Program, as membership in the AAFP is a prerequisite for participation in the program.

Dr. Marcus G. Brown, 2014 AAFP president, said, “We’re fortunate that we’re growing and people are realizing we’re here to help them and grow the cat part of their practice and work with cats and know their psychology better. We can be a tremendous resource.”

Dr. Brown
Dr. Marcus G. Brown
Dr. Little
Dr. Susan Little
Dr. Zislin
Dr. Arne Zislin
Dr. Smith
Dr. Roy Brenton Smith

Dr. Brown said one of the key things he learned from working on one of the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Studies—research intended to confirm the decrease in the number of patient visits at many practices, identify the reasons behind the trend, and provide solutions for practitioners—was that early intervention can help save lives, increase quality of life, and, often, save money.

“Helping to educate veterinarians make visits less unpleasant is one step. The second step is to show cat owners that their cats can often hide disease. With cats receiving routine preventive veterinary care, we will be able to increase both the quality and quantity of their lives with their human companions,” he said.

Preventive care hasn’t been the only focus of the AAFP. Feline dentistry, pain management, and nutrition were the main themes of this fall’s AAFP conference, held Sept. 26-29 in Dallas. Attendance remained about the same from the previous year, with 544 veterinarians and another 114 exhibitors and guests.

Sessions touched on everything from how to manage conditions such as diabetes and colitis to assessing acute pain to diagnosing and treating oral tumors.

Dr. Brown said dentistry is an important component of practice that all veterinarians must learn to perform properly.

“This is a section of veterinary medicine that is growing. The nice thing about dentistry is you take something that’s awful and make it better. You get that sense of gratification quickly,” he said.

Guidelines and projects

The AAFP had other notable projects this past year. For one, it launched a redesigned website that has more simplified search elements, with home page features such as the “Find a Veterinarian” or “Cat Friendly Practice” search, as well as new rotating content. The website also has been designed to be compatible with several browsers and mobile devices such as smartphones and digital tablets.

AAFP issued a few new guidelines this year, too. One, in partnership with the International Society of Feline Medicine, details feline environmental needs (see JAVMA, April 1, 2013), and the other, in conjunction with the American Animal Hospital Association, outlines fluid therapy for dogs and cats and comes with an implementation toolkit (see JAVMA, June 15, 2013). AAFP also released its updated Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel Report (see JAVMA, Oct. 1, 2013).

And finally, the AAFP partnered with Bayer HealthCare to release the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study III: Feline Findings (see JAVMA, March 15, 2013). From this research, the AAFP developed “Ten Solutions to Increase Cat Visits,” available here.

The 2014 AAFP officers are Drs. Marcus Brown, Arlington, Va., president; Susan Little, Ottawa, Ontario, president-elect; Arne Zislin, Leawood, Kan., treasurer; and Roy Brenton Smith, Round Rock, Texas, immediate past president.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that the 2014 AAFP president, Dr. Susan Little, was from Longview, Texas. She is from Ottawa, Ontario.