Most of us are broadly aware that veterinary practices are generally divided into two types of treatment sections- small animal (such as cats, dogs and small furries) and large animal (farm animals and horses) with many practices being ‘mixed’ or equally able to treat either type of animal. There are of course various specialist types of veterinary surgeries too, such as those that specialise in treating horses, or those that are able to treat exotic animals such as reptiles and rare birds that other practices don’t have enough experience with. However, a relatively new phenomenon within the UK, but one that is proving to be very popular with cat owners, are veterinary practices just for felines.At first glance, it might seem a little peculiar to think that a veterinary surgeon or team of veterinary surgeons might dedicate an entire practice over to the care of cats- just cats and no other animals. Cats are a very mainstream and popular pet, and not generally one that is thought of as requiring skills, equipment or facilities that cannot be found in your average all-animal veterinary practice. So, what’s so special about cat-only veterinary practices, and as a cat owner, should you consider swapping over to one for your own cat? Read on to learn more!
Cat-only veterinary practices do exactly what it says on the tin- they only treat and provide a service for cats. No animals other than cats will be treated at the clinic, and the entire surgery and staffing team will be comprised of cat lovers and cat experts. All of the veterinary surgeons that own or work within a cat-only clinic will be fully qualified and MRCVS registered in the usual manner, and will have gained their qualifications alongside of the rest of the veterinary surgery world, learning about the health and treatment of a wide range of other animals as well as cats. The decision to later specialise as a cat-only vet and provide the facilities to do so accordingly is one that comes from a deep love of all things feline, and a desire to gain a greater understanding of cats and their health and wellness.Cat-only practices will be fully equipped with all of the facilities that you would find in a general practice, such as consult rooms, operating theatre, X ray and other diagnostic tools. The full range of facilities available will vary from practice to practice, but cat-only vets will be as well equipped like for like as any other practice in the area.
Taking your cat for routine or emergency veterinary treatment can be a very stressful time for both cat and owner, and one of the things that can greatly exacerbate this for the cat is to enter the waiting room only to come face to face with a large barking dog. The waiting room smells, the presence of a wide range of animals and the potential noise of even the most well run general practice can all add to making the experience traumatic for your cat, something that is greatly minimised in cat-only practices. Cat-only practices will only smell of cats- no dogs or anything else that could potentially feel threatening- and the atmosphere will be calm, quiet and relaxing, just how cats like it. Many cat-only practices will have Feliway diffusers liberally generating the cat feel-good pheromone into the air to further calm and appease your cat. Cat-only veterinary practices place a premium on providing a calm and stress-free environment for cats, right from the moment you walk through the door, whereas mixed practices can be rather more rowdy.Cat-only vets generally offer slightly longer consult times than other practices, as they appreciate the value of allowing your cat to settle down before examination in order to give the clearest picture of their true health.If your cat needs to go in for a routine procedure or other treatment, they will find the kennels are much better suited to their needs than other practices. Rather than having to share the kennel room with a range of other animals- including dogs- the preparation and recovery kennels are again, just for kitties! They will be arranged so as to allow each cat to feel safe ad secure, and not have to stare at other cats, which might prove stressful. Finally, vets and veterinary nurses that work with only cats all day, every day, will not only be avid cat fanatics, but also become very experienced in their care and wellbeing. As specialists in their field, cat-only vets will undergo a constant learning process and of course keep up to date with all of the latest developments within feline medicine, and be able to advise on cutting-edge treatments and advances in the cat veterinary world, something that may take a while to filter down into general practice.
Cat-only practices, while feline specialists, are still general practices and not referral clinics or centres. If your cat develops a potentially complicated or difficult to treat condition, or requires testing and diagnosis using facilities that the practice does not possess, your cat-only vet may need to refer your cat to a specialist, which will almost certainly be a mixed practice again. Some cat-only clinics run their own 24 hour and emergency care provision, whereas others will again transfer their out-of-hours coverage to another general practice or agency in the area. Finally, even if you’ve decided that a cat-only veterinary practice is the way to go for you and your cat, you might unfortunately be out of luck before you even get going. Even though they have proven to be incredibly popular in the UK so far, cat-only vets are still a recent phenomenon, and there just are not that many of them about yet. You might find that there simply isn’t a cat-only practice within travelling distance of your home- yet!