• Call our surgery01273 505071
  • Out of hours01273 540430

Feline Friendly Focus

Cats Cats Cats!

This week at Beech House we received the brilliant news that we have been awarded Silver in the Cat Friendly Practice Scheme run by International Cat Care. I wanted to talk about why cats are so special and what this can mean both for us as cat owners, and for vet visits.

Where do cats come from?

  • All cats are members of the Felidae family and the domestic cat is known as Felis Catus. It is thought cats first lived around humans around 10,000 years ago, drawn to the mice living in grain stores.
  • Domestic cats remain almost identical in their DNA, shape and behaviour to some of their wild counterparts, they are tame but not truly domestic, and this is important to realise both as cat owners and in providing feline healthcare.

Cat Behaviour

Independent – aside from lions, adult wild cats don’t rely on interactions with other cats for survival, coming together only to mate. Cats therefore often don’t like to be near other cats, but they can occasionally form close bonds. They also like to drive the frequency and intensity of their interactions with people. Cats are strongly territorial which may lead to inter-cat aggression and stress. 

Hunters – cats are highly developed hunters and need to display this behaviour. They tend to be most active at dawn and dusk when their prey would be available. Play is used to practise hunting technique and they have sharp claws and teeth. Cats are agile and like to live on multiple levels, sometimes hiding under beds, other times exploring on the top of furniture. They are highly aware, with sensitive vision, hearing and sense of smell.

Communication - cats don’t display emotions in a way that is always easy for humans to understand, but they feel fear, stress, excitement and pleasure. Facial signs are subtle and body language important. Cats communicate through touch, vocalisation, and scent – both urine and faeces and scratching behaviour release pheromones (chemical messengers). Some of these methods of communicating can lead to problems in domestic life, but often we can help if we understand what the cat is trying to say.

Cats at the vets

As a highly sensitive and territorial animal, visits to a veterinary practice can be a source of great stress, both for the cat and their owner! It is important we examine cats on a regular basis, to provide preventative healthcare but also because we know cats hide pain and disease - a full examination can highlight weight changes, dental disease and other ailments. There is much we can do to make a visit to the vets as stress free as possible.

From home to the clinic

  • Choose the right cat carrier. It needs to be safe and sturdy. We like the plastic boxes where we can easily remove the front door and top of the box, leaving your cat available for us to examine but feeling secure with the sides of the tray around them.
  • Leave the carrier out at home. If cats are familiar with a box, perhaps there is a tasty treat or cosy bed within, when the time comes for the vet visit there won’t be a negative association.
  • Scents – place a blanket or item of clothing in the basket for reassurance, feliway spray can be used, but half an hour before the cat enters the box to allow the alcohol to evaporate. If your cat needs to stay with us we can then put the familiar item in their kennel.

Our commitment to cat care

  • In the waiting room we provide tables, so your cat can feel safe off the floor, and there is a screen to avoid cats and dogs being in eye contact. There are blankets to cover cat boxes if needed.
  • We have cat only days (aside from dogs needing urgent attention) one Tuesday of each month.
  • 15-minute appointments give your cat time to acclimatise to the consulting room, and allow us to be more cautious, careful and thorough in working with your cat.
  • We use fear free handling, always as gentle and respectful as possible, and we would rather use mild sedation than resort to heavy restraint for our feline patients. 
  • When hospitalised we avoid eye contact between dogs and cats, provide hidey holes and platforms for cats to sit on, tasty food and toys, and as much or as little interaction as your cat would like.
  • We are proactive in our approach to feline care, we know what a difference screening health checks, dental care and pain relief can make to our feline patients and we will always discuss this with you and do all we can for your cat’s wellbeing.

Cats are beautiful, intelligent, funny and affectionate and they become such important members of our family. I’m proud of what we have achieved at Beech House for our feline patients, and as always if you have any feedback or ideas on how we can improve our service please don’t hesitate to contact us.