CAT CARE IN PRACTICES: OPPORTUNITIES BEING MISSED - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

CAT CARE IN PRACTICES: OPPORTUNITIES BEING MISSED

A NEW study conducted by Bayer
HealthCare, in collaboration with
the American Association of
Feline Practitioners (AAFP),
reveals that 78% of veterinarians
in the USA believe that better care
for cats represents one of the most
significant missed opportunities
for the profession.

The study found that 46% of
veterinary clinics have recently started
taking specific steps to increase visits
among current feline patients, attract
more cat-owning clients, and make
their practices more “friendly” to
cats. But there is still much to be
done.

Results from the Bayer Veterinary
Care Usage Study III: Feline Findings
were presented at the North
American Veterinary Conference in
Orlando in January. This third in a
series of studies sponsored by Bayer
HealthCare’s animal health division
was presented in partnership with the
AAFP and Brakke Consulting. The
study’s findings are based on a
nationally representative online
survey of 401 veterinary practice
owners in November 2012.

The purpose of the study is to
improve veterinary care of pets by
determining why visits are declining
and helping veterinarians reverse the
trend, according to Ian Spinks,
president and general manager of
Bayer’s animal health division in
North America.

Earlier phases of the study found
that cats were less likely to receive
regular veterinary care.

“The new study aims to deliver
actionable insights that improve
feline healthcare and strengthen
veterinary practices,” he said.

It found that despite the fact that
most veterinarians recognise that cat
owners consider a visit to the
veterinarian to be stressful for
themselves and their pets, nearly one-
third of practices have not trained
staff on how to make visits less
stressful for cat owners.

In addition, relatively few
practices have adopted procedures
such as: consulting rooms used only
for cats (35%); cat-only waiting areas
that are physically and visually
separated from dogs (18%); and cat-
only days and appointment hours
(11%).

“To some extent, veterinarians’
own biases may play a role in how
they pursue feline patients,” said Dr
Elizabeth Colleran, owner of Chico
Hospital for Cats in Chico,
California, and past president of the AAFP.

“For example, the study found that, while veterinarians are nearly
equally likely to own a dog or cat –
81% versus 70% – 48% prefer dogs
while only 17% prefer cats.”

The study further confirmed a
preference for dog over cat patients
by veterinarians, who indicated: dogs are easier to work with than cats
during “wellness exams” (90 versus
65%); cats are more challenging to
diagnose than dogs (57 v. 34%); and
dogs actually enjoy visiting the clinic
(79 v. 15%); 20% of vets with cats
reported not having conducted a
wellness exam on their own cat in the
past 12 months.

Bayer and the AAFP have come
up with “practical tips” to increase
the number of cat consults including:
find the un-served/under-served cats
in your practice by asking about other
household pets on every visit and
tracking reminder compliance; and
educating cat owners on carrier use
and transport.

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