The 20-minute series by the American Association of Feline Practitioners shows veterinary teams how to detect signs of stress, such as ears down and pupils dilated.
“We need to learn how to read cats better,” California veterinarian and former association president Elizabeth Colleran explains in Part 2. “We need to be able to read the behavior cues that cats are telling us but that we’re just not seeing – those subtle signs that indicate that they’re starting to get a little more aroused than we want them to be. Once we understand those, then we can adjust our behavior accordingly.”
To make cats more comfortable, veterinarians can:
- Tell cat parents how to acclimate their pets to carriers.
- Set up cat-only waiting areas or cat-only appointment times.
- Allow cat carriers in waiting rooms to be placed on elevated surfaces instead of the floor.
- Greet cats and their cat parents calmly, softly and warmly.
- Tailor an exam to a cat. For instance, a cat might be more comfortable on a lap, bench or floor than on a table.
- Conduct the most difficult tasks at the end of an exam.
“When I come into a room to examine a cat, I haven’t made up my mind about how that experience is going to happen,” Colleran says in Part 4. “What we need to understand is what’s going to be the least stressful for the cat and then make sure that that all happens.”
The association said a Bayer HealthCare study found that 83 percent of cats are taken to a veterinarian in the first year of ownership but over half of them do not return. Cats are territorial and often dislike being removed from their homes, so many feline owners conclude that vet visits are too stressful.