Page 217 - WSAVA2017
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Olfactory and Auditory Environments
Sounds and smells are potent memory evoking stimuli. In addition, noxious smells and frightening sounds can cause a fear response. For those reasons, try to keep the areas where patients are housed, quiet or use classical music or white noise to drown out the sounds of the hospital. In addition, use no scent or low scent disenfectants and use positive odors such as lavendar and chamomile.
Waiting room
The waiting room can be stressful for the cat and the owner. If possible, keep cats separated from dogs. If this is not possible, consider asking the owner to cover her cat’s carrier, put it under her chair or on her lap. Alternatively, ask her to step away from a nearby dog. If a room is available, even if the veterinarian is not ready to see the patient, consider moving the cat into a quiet room. Towels infused with pheromones can be available as well for clients who didn’t bring a carrier cover.
Examination room
Whenever medically appropriate group treatments
for feline boarders or inpatients to reduce handling
and schedule changes which have both been shown
to increase stress in cats. Cats should have a hiding spot, fleece beds and if possible shelves inside of the hospitalization or boarding cage. As mentioned above, Feliway can be useful in these situations as well having been shown to increase grooming and food intake in hospitalized cats when compared with the control group. Try to place cats in higher cages as long as it is safe for the veterinary team to remove them. This may help cats to feel less stressed as height seeking along with hiding are very common feline coping tools. Try to avoid placing cats in area where they will viewing other animals. Tailor the management of cats to their preferences. Some
cats appear to be entertained by the goings on in the waiting room as long as they are safe behind glass. This can be used as enrichment for boarders. Make sure that cats can get away with a hiding spot. Towels can be an excellent way to remove fearfully aggressive cats out of the cage.
The days where cats “had” to be scruffed to collect blood are long gone. When drawing lab samples, consider using towels, non skid mats and burrito
wraps. Collection of lab samples can be done on the technician’s lap as well. To avoid artificial increases in blood pressure and blood glucose, draw samples and complete diagnostics in the examination room with the owner present whenever possible. More information can be found on, and in the text Low Stress Handling and Restraint (Yin).
Whenever possible, let the cat come of the carrier to explore the room before the examination starts because it is much less stressful for the cat to leave the carrier of his own accord than to be removed. This will also allow the veterinarian to assess the cat’s gait, respiratory rate and other grossly observable physiologic and physical parameters. The use of toys can be helpful in gait assessment as well. Instead of trying to make friends with the cat, let the cat come to you if possible while your talk to the client.
Catnip and treats can be helpful in making the examination go more smoothly by lowering the stress level of the patient. While many cats won’t eat during physical examinations some will when presented with the “right” foods. The veterinary team should be experimental and think outside the box. At our hospital cats have eaten beef liver dog treats, chicken dog treats, cheese treats and Easy Cheese. The sounds of the hospital can be suppressed by using white noise or playing classical music in the exam room.
Think of alternative places to examine the cat such as within the carrier with the carrier top removed, on a bench or on your lap. I generally recommend that the examination start from the rear instead of the front with food offered throughout. If the cat can only be examined on a table, cover the table with a non skid mat with something that smells like the cat or the owner on top of the mat. This way, the cat has a soft surface and will not slip on the table. If medically appropriate, save the rectal temperature for last.
An Urban Experience

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