Growing a feline-friendly practice (Sponsored by Nestlé Purina)
While the number of cats being kept as companions in North American homes is increasing, the number of feline visits to clinics has been declining since 2001. Based on the AVMA's 2007 pet ownership and demographics survey, there are 13% more cats than dogs, yet cats fail to receive the same amount of veterinary attention. In small-animal practices, dogs represented 59% of office visits, cats only 39%. The recent 2011 Bayer Brakke study further noted three client-driven factors that limited the number of feline visits.
1. Inadequate understanding of the need for regular preventive health visits other than for vaccination.
2. Resistance to bringing a cat to the clinic because of the distress caused by placing a cat into a carrier and making the trip to the clinic. This factor was reflected dramatically by the fact that 40% of cats had not been to a veterinarian within the past year, compared with only 15% of dogs.3. The cost of veterinary care, in particular the frequency and size of price increases.
The goal of this presentation is to look at these reasons, so we can start reversing this trend, in order to benefit cats, their human companions, and clinic growth.
A cat is a prey animal that lives on its own. With no support network to fall back on for protection or food, cats need to continue taking care of themselves until they are too ill to do so. Cats are subtle and hide their signs of illness or pain extremely well. Many people believe that cats are self-sufficient and low-maintenance. As a consequence, by the time a client notices clinical signs and decides that a clinic visit is warranted, the patient may already be sicker than it looks. Thus, it is important to educate clients to recognize the subtle signs of sickness and pain. Earlier intervention will benefit all.