SYCAMORE – Since August, Bethany Animal Hospital has been considered an official “feline-friendly practice.”
That designation, which comes from the American Association of Feline Practitioners, reflects the animal hospital’s efforts to improve the environment for cats that are brought in for treatment.
“We wanted them to be calmer and be less stressed, because just seeing a dog, seeing another cat can set them off,” said Dr. Katherine Clement.
High-stressed cats can complicate a veterinarian’s work, Clement said. For instance, a high stress level can increase a cat’s blood sugar, thus making it harder to tell if the cat has diabetes or not.
“Cats can get high blood pressure if they’re frightened,” Clement said. “Is this a true reading? Do we need to put him on meds? Or is this just a scared cat.”
To accommodate the cats, they have a dedicated waiting room for them as well as one dedicated examination room for them.
The waiting room itself is dark and removed from the regular waiting rooms. There also are chairs and benches where cats can rest as they feel safer off the ground, Clement said.
In the dedicated cat examination room, cats are able to sit on a ledge near the window.
“It’s a wonderful distraction for them,” Clement said. “I’ve actually examined cats on this shelf, where they want to be.”
There also is another examination room dedicated to cats, but if the hospital is busy, they will sometimes examine dogs in the room, Clement said.
The hospital also has its own cats-only boarding room where residents can place their animals if they are leaving the area for an extended period of time.
Clement said they hope the measures the hospital has taken cause more cat owners to bring their pets in for an examination.
She recommended owners bringing their cats once a year until they’re about 7 years old, and at that point, they should come in every six months.
“People think that cats don’t need care because cats, the way they are, they hide their disease,” Clement said, adding that an ailing dog is more apparent than an ailing cat. By the time the owner typically notices, the treatment can be very severe.
Bethany Animal Hospital received a silver designation from AAFP. A gold designation would have required construction and remodeling of the building, Clement said.
According to the AAFP, Bethany Animal Hospital is the only location in the county to be designated by the organization as a feline friendly practice. The next closest location is in Oswego.