AAFP president wants culture change towards cats

Published on November 29, 2017

The American Association of Feline Practitioners is one of the organizations leading a culture change toward cats, and Dr. Paula Monroe-Aldridge is one of the veterinarians leading the AAFP.

Dr. Paula Monroe-Aldridge

​Dr. Apryl Steele

Dr. Lauren Demos

​Dr. Roy B. Smith


​(Photos courtesy of AAFP)

The 2018 AAFP president said: "I have always found cats extremely enjoyable and fascinating. They are interesting creatures and have long been misunderstood. Once I was a veterinarian, it was evident that cats were not fully understood even by veterinarians. Their physiology is different, and even the way they respond to fear and pain is different than other species. They need to be treated like the unique creatures that they are, socially and medically."

Dr. Monroe-Aldridge was joined by like-minded people at the 2017 AAFP Conference, Oct. 19-22 in Denver, which brought in 944 veterinary professionals and 195 exhibitors and guests from 15 countries. The AAFP has grown to 3,918 members in 2017. The Cat Friendly Practice program grew to 1,150 practices in 2017, with another 490 practices in the process of earning the designation.

Like many colleagues, Dr. Monroe-Aldridge decided at a young age to become a veterinarian. She had a love of animals, and she wanted to help the hurt and sick animals. She earned her veterinary degree from Oklahoma State University in 1996.

She currently practices at River Trail Animal Hospital in Oklahoma. The hospital asked her to incorporate her feline expertise and knowledge as the practice was developing.

"While I was lucky enough to have some influence on the actual construction of the building toward a Cat Friendly Practice, I would like to stress to everyone that it is very possible to have a Cat Friendly Practice without major construction," she said. "It is more of a philosophy project than construction project."

She continued: "When you decrease the stress of the cat, you are able to do more with the cat and for the cat. You also decrease the stress of the owners as well as the staff. Less stress results in better medical care for the cats, more compliant owners, and potentially less work-related injuries. By incorporating accommodations for cats and paying attention to the special needs of cats, we increased the number of cat patients being seen."

In addition to the Cat Friendly Practice program, some of the other benefits of AAFP membership are the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, the annual conference, webinars, and a newsletter. Dr. Monroe-Aldridge said one of the biggest benefits is camaraderie with fellow practitioners. The AAFP also develops practice guidelines, position statements, and client materials available to all veterinarians.

In 2017, the AAFP launched an educational website for cat owners at www.catfriendly.com. Dr. Monroe-Aldridge said, "Having this information out there increases owner awareness of feline topics and helps practitioners achieve a higher standard of feline veterinary care."

As AAFP president, Dr. Monroe-Aldridge would like to see the Cat Friendly Practice program continue to grow, and she would especially like to see more veterinary colleges and veterinary technology programs participate via teaching facilities earning the designation. She said, "These are good places to change the culture."

Joining Dr. Monroe-Aldridge as AAFP officers for 2018 are Drs. Apryl Steele, Denver, president-elect; Lauren Demos, Waterford, Michigan, immediate past president; and Roy B. Smith, Round Rock, Texas, treasurer.

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