At Galaxy Cats Vet Center, our main focus (besides keeping kitties healthy) is using low stress techniques to give your kitty friends an easier experience. What does this mean for you, the owner, however? Low stress is not only great for keeping your kitty calmer, it helps our doctor better identify issues going on with your furry co-pilot and makes going to the vet a much less scary experience for human and kitty.
How we set up our clinic to be “Low Stress”
From the get-go, we are a cats only vet office. Cats already have trouble leaving their “territory” and going into a place with so many different smells and loud sounds of other animals can make it harder on them. Cats suffer from being right in the middle of the food chain; they eat rodents and birds, but in turn are also prey to larger carnivores themselves (and trust us when we say, they know). By limiting it to only cats, we limit the sounds and smells coming into the office that can cause cats to feel unsafe. Some vet offices are even starting to have cat only rooms or appointment hours to help separate dogs, cats and other animals from each other. By having a cat only office, the only smells coming in are other kitties.
Sound plays a big part in how our furry friends handle the world around them. Cats tend to do better in quiet environments. We use quiet calming music and/or white noise to help keep cats calm. White noise is especially helpful as it can help drown out some of the sounds we don’t really think about that cats can hear, such as talking, machine beeps, and outside noises. Keeping things quiet, calm, and using soft voices all help cats feel less stressed when they are coming in.
We also designed our clinic to be cat friendly. You may notice when you are in an exam room that the shelves double as climbing shelves for cat patients, and the bench you sit on is a hideaway for nervous kitties! As we mentioned before, cats sit right in the middle of the food chain, and either like to go high up to see the world or down low to hide and feel safe. By providing both, our patients can make their own choice about what makes them feel safe and can help them feel like they have more control over the space they are in.
Along with how the rooms are designed, we filled them to be cat positive as well. Each room has different types of treats and toys to entertain your buddy and help them feel more at ease. We also have feliway diffusers in every room, these use pheromones found to be calming to cats, meaning the smells in the room are more comforting as well. Sound and smell are the most important ways cats navigate the world, by supporting these senses with quiet sounds and positive smells they are more likely to stay calm during their visit. Easy-going visits mean it is easier to get them in when they need to be seen!
What does Low Stress Techniques mean? How are you using them?
If you have a very anxious co-pilot who is more of a “fighter” than a “hider” you may have seen previous vets bring out the scratch proof gloves, scruff your kitties or worse, the muzzle. At Galaxy Cats, these items are not in the exam rooms. Our team is trained observe feline behavior and body language to see when they are starting to get stressed out. This is why our appointments tend to be scheduled longer, if your kitty needs a break from being worked with, they deserve to have that boundary respected. By taking the time to “listen” to your fluffy co-pilot and following their lead, the vast majority of cats that come in don’t even get to the “fight” fear response.
Scruffing, despite what many believe, is generally not a safe or kind method of restraint. The old tale that cats think it is their mom and go limp is false. Cats stop having that response once they are old enough to walk around on their own. These middle-of-the-food-chain cats are more likely to fear like a predator is grabbing them, which can quickly escalate a situation where your cat already feels unsafe. If a cat is becoming hostile, a towel or blanket over them for a few moments to get composed will work much more successfully in the long run than grabbing restrictive tools to force cats into positions to be looked at. Cats that get these treatments at appointments quickly associate the vet’s office with scary experiences. By listening to and following our kitty clients, they in turn are less afraid to come in. Meaning a smoother experience for owner and cat.
Studies show that cats are less likely to receive yearly checkups than dogs, with a major reason being how stressful it is to get cats to and from the vet, as well as the visit itself being stressful for the cat as well. Couple this with the fact that cats tend to hide their pain until it’s serious means many easily treatable health issues go unnoticed and untreated until they are much worse (not only for your kitty’s health and comfort, but for your wallet too). By making the vet a less scary experience for human and animal, we hope to get kitties in more so we can find what they might be hiding and keep them happy and healthy for their whole life