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Why cat owners need to seek 'cat friendly' vet practices

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Why cat owners need to seek 'cat friendly' vet practices

Why cat owners need to seek ‘cat friendly’ vet practices

Special issue looks at the health and welfare needs of cats

While the clinical care of cats has improved over the past 20 years, there is still a long way to go to improve cat handling and understanding of cat behaviour in UK vet practices, argues Claire Bessant, chief executive of International Cat Care, in Vet Record today.

The article is part of a special issue on the health and welfare needs of cats.

Forceful handling is still happening in many clinics, with cats being picked up by the scruff of the neck and/or just tipped out of their basket, she writes. Similarly, many clinics still continue to hospitalise cats along with dogs, expecting to see no negative impact.

Bessant believes that practices “should be placing as much focus on creating a stress-free environment for cats as they do on clinical outcomes.”

To address these issues, ICC’s Cat Friendly Clinic programme aims to minimise stress for cats and owners and its Cat Care for Life programme, launched earlier this year, aims to help vets and owners form a partnership to better provide proactive and preventive healthcare to cats, she explains.

“The value of cats to their owners and to the practice is still underestimated by vets, and so it is important that practices make the best of such initiatives to work with their cat-owning clients,” she concludes.

In a linked article, one cat owner explains why she thinks all cat owners should use a cat-friendly clinic. Rachael Humber contrasts a standard veterinary surgery with one that that has been accredited as ‘cat-friendly’ by the International Society of Feline Medicine.

She says the key is to provide clean, spacious, bright and quiet areas just for cats and well-trained staff who know how to handle cats – this results in less anxious and stressed cats and pet owners.

Second class cats – farm cats get less vet care than pet cats


Cats who live on farms are treated differently to pet cats elsewhere – they get less preventive care, such as vaccinations, and are less likely to be neutered, suggests preliminary data also published in Vet Record today.

Limited information exists on the number of farm cats in the UK and the care provided for them. So a team led by Claire Roberts at the University of Bristol carried out an anonymous survey of UK farmers.

Of 106 respondents, 93% reported cats (including ‘pet’, ‘farm’ and ‘feral’ cats) on their farm.

All respondents provided food for their farm cats, but low levels of vaccination and neutering were reported. For example, for farms which had both pet and farm cats, 40% reported annual vaccinations for pet cats, while only 10% reported annual vaccinations for farm cats.

And of the 325 adult farm cats, fewer than half (45%) were neutered, while 93% of the 113 pet cats were neutered.

The authors point out that self-reporting and small sample size may have limited the reliability of their results. Nevertheless they say, with a potentially large number of cats receiving low levels of preventive care, “this could be a target for vaccination and neutering campaigns” and they suggest future studies could build on these findings.


Debate: Why has it taken so long to improve cat care?

Client View: Why I use a cat-friendly clinic

Research: Cats on farms in the UK: numbers and preventive care

Journal: Vet Record