Does Your Cat Need A Feline-only Vet Hospital?
Did you know that not all hospitals are created equal when it comes to treating cats? Some approach felines with a mentality that suggests they're more like small dogs than a separate species with its own unique needs.
For example: hospitals that handle cats roughly, place their carriers next to barking dogs, hospitalize them in full view of slathering canine predators, or — worse still — simply fail to keep up with issues inherent to feline medicine (vaccine protocols, low-stress handling techniques, diabetes management, etc.).
That’s partly because studies show pet owners are more likely to spend their hard-earned dollars on dogs over cats — by about two to one. Some vets argue it’s hard to get deeply involved with a case when you know a client is likely to nix their cat’s proposed treatment based on the fact that "it's just a cat."
But it’s also because cats can be tougher to work with. It’s my opinion that felines require a little more patience — as do their owners. After all, cat people can be a little quirky … not that I mind, full of my own quirks as I am.
Moreover, some practices are just not set up to handle cats as well as they handle dogs. Barking, in particular, is a huge stressor for cats. And that can be rough for kitties whose vet visits take place across a thin wall from a room loaded with boarding dogs.
Let’s be honest: Some cats are better off going to a cat hospital. Not only are feline practitioners, on average, more likely to be up-to-date on issues like vaccine protocols and cat-specific approaches to medicine and handling, but the atmosphere is typically serene compared to dog and cat facilities.
Problem is, these practices are not always available. Nor should you assume that feline-exclusive veterinary practices are always the right choice.
For starters, it’s tough to take your dog to one place and your cat to another. It’s hard to build multiple relationships with professionals when finding a vet is already such a difficult prospect.
So let’s get back to the issue of how many cat-only practices are available in any given municipality. In most major metropolitan inner cities there’s often a wealth of opportunities to sample, and a variety of feline practitioners to select from, whereas in places like Miami (for instance), there are only a couple to choose from. The chances that they’re far from you is probably quite high — not exactly the best approach during a serious emergency or possible emergency.
Nonetheless, it might be worth your while to give your cat(s) the chance to experience one of these places. If your cat seems inordinately stressed at the vet’s, or is acting out aggressively at your average cat-dog hospital, and especially if you’re looking for a veterinarian with cat-specific skills, you might want to give this tack a try.
But that’s not to say your own vet can’t be persuaded to use another room (if the barking is louder in one than another), or that you shouldn't ask for an appointment at a low-traffic time. And it’s not even a given that every dog and cat hospital will be noisy and/or cat-phobic/cat-unfriendly.
Still, it’s important that you investigate every opportunity to have your feline cared for in the manner you believe she deserves. If that means seeking out a cat hospital, vets like me agree — as much as we like treating cats and would mourn your loss, we want you to be satisfied.
Dr. Patty Khuly