The Cat Friendly Clinic is a worldwide programme from the International Society of Feline Medicine, the veterinary division of International CatCare. We recognise that because of their unique nature and needs, taking a cat to a veterinary clinic can be very stressful, both for the cat and also the owner.
As you are aware we are the only practice in the local area that achieved the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) Gold award for our standards in cat care. As Mochdre Vets is a new practice we had the fortune to design it from the beginning with a view of making it friendly for our cats and never had to compromise because we were trying to shoe horn it in to an existing clinic.
We have to thank our head nurse and cat advocat Claire Williams for all her hard work and enthusiasm who has been involved right from the beginning when we were still drawing up plans for the building. She ensured that we achieved and continue to maintain the standards required, there was never a point during this process where ‘good enough’ was good enough! Though obviously she did have Clive cracking the whip!
We asked Claire to write about her experience in helping design Mochdre Vets with a feline friendly view in mind …
I have always had an interest in feline behaviour and had some knowledge of their welfare within the veterinary practice so when Sarah Heywood decided to open Mochdre Vets I was invited to help plan the lay out with our feline friends in mind.
Right from the start we decided that everything should be separate from a feline hospital ward to the waiting rooms and consult rooms.
Starting with the waiting room this is completely separate from the dogs and can be accessed easily without having to come in to contact with any dogs. The room was picked to give the maximum space away from dogs and the room was next to the hydrotherapy pool so it would naturally be the warmest room. The consult room itself is the smallest and darkest of the consult rooms which is an environment preferred by cats than dogs. To reduce stress within the waiting room there are plug in devices which help to relax cats, there is a high level stand to place the cats in their carriers. There are towels to cover the carriers to help make it less stressful and these are sprayed with the stress helping pheromones. We also operate cat only consulting times and I myself am doing the ISFM certificate in feline behaviour so I offer a lot of free consults to cat owners. This is again to help minimise stress when owners are introducing their cats to new situations. I even offer consults for just the owners the idea longer term is to try and minimise the stress for a cat coming to the vets, studies have shown animals that are stressed will show higher levels of pain and take longer to recover from any illness or operations.
For any hospitilised patients we have a separate ward with ISFM approved cat condos.These are different to your usual veterinary metal cages as they have plenty of space. There are perches so the cats can sit up high, there are hiding areas to give them a sense of control and safety. The design of the cages means we can monitor patients easily, they are warm and easily cleaned which can help with infection management. As they are not metal it means cats won’t catch their reflections which can be seen as a threat. The condos allow for the cats to be on drips and still be able to move round freely.
All staff have undergone further training in cat handling and detecting signs of pain and I regularly do training with the nursing team. As vets and nurses we have to do a certain amount of continual learning each year and a lot of this is feline based so that we can maintain our gold standard and keep improving. We also provide a variety of diets and have dedicated staff to sit with any poorly cats grooming them and helping them relax.
ISFM have a categorised feline friendly status which are marked Bronze, Silver and Gold. To achieve the highest Gold standard we have to be judged against a wide range of criteria including:
- Veterinary Clinic Premises – exclusive cat wards, isolation facilities, waiting rooms and consult rooms
- Facilities – raised shelves and benches for cat baskets with vertical barriers and a high level of laboratory equipment.
- Services – minimum consult times, all our consults are 20 minutes for all clients
- Staff – All staff , receptionists, vets and nurses need to have an understanding of the needs of cats including how to hold and approach them.
To achieve and maintain standards a Cat Friendly Clinic should have an dedicated person that holds all the values for felines with the upmost importance, called a cat advocate and at Mochdre Vets that is Claire.
If you are interested in the complete list of requirements for CFC accreditation you can read the ISFM’s criteria here.
Claire works Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays but can always be contacted by email email@example.com and would be delighted to help you with any cat related issues you have. Claire has almost completed her certificate in feline behaviour and the sessions are FREE and already we have had some very positive outcomes to nervous cats.