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I never realised that my cats could actually enjoy a visit to the vet. Then I switched to a cat-only practice.

I had no problem with my previous vets, a mixed small animal practice, but my cats weren’t so keen – especially with the waiting room. They particularly hated its constant stream of large, anxious, panting dogs dragging their owners through the door.

To be fair, once the cats were in the consulting room they’ve always got on with it, stoically, in a British sort of a way, rigidly waiting glued to the table for the ordeal to be over. But then there was always the final treat for them; running the gauntlet past whichever big, hairy and terrifying creatures might line our path to the exit.

So when a house move forced me to find a new practice, I couldn’t believe how different things could be.

Cat gone AWOL? It’s fine!

My very first appointment with Desmond, my 17-year-old tabby at the cat-only practice I found was a revelation. This particular practice has the hard-earned accolade of Gold Level Cat Friendly Clinic from International Cat Care, and I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.

The first thing that struck me was being given an approximate time for my appointment, so that “if you have trouble catching him, just take your time so neither of you get stressed.”
Wow – that reminded me, I don’t think I’d ever arrived at the vets unstressed! My three have a psychic ability to disappear whenever a trip to the vet looms – cue panic, delight at finding said cat, then swearing and interesting driving to only arrive late and so have to rebook. And breathe.

On (calm) arrival at the cat-only clinic, it felt nothing like a vet practice. No antiseptic smell, soft furnishings and flowers – but most importantly, no whimpering dogs scratching their way across the floor of the waiting room. In fact, as it’s a small practice, it was just me and the receptionist, who offered me a coffee and showed me into the consulting room.

Relaxation on the rug

Now this was also NOTHING like my old vets. A cat play area, toys, scratching post and an armchair for me. While my coffee was being made, I was asked to let Desmond out so he could wander around – which he did, and seemed pretty happy about it too, before settling down on the rug.

His consultation continued like this, in an extremely relaxed, un-hurried manner, much of it taking place where he was comfy on the rug. I honestly don’t think Desmond had any clue he was at the vets.

Sadly, several months and a few more visits later, poor Desmond had to be put to sleep. But, despite the horrendousness of the occasion, yet again the ethos of the practice made the world of difference to me, my husband and our lovely old cat. We were shown to a snug little room with sofas and a rug, where we were all able to relax, have a final cuddle and say goodbye, in total peace and in our own time.

When I think back to those last few appointments and saying goodbye to Desmond, my memories feel very warm and content, and I know that we couldn’t have been in a more relaxing and kind environment for him.

Fortunately, our remaining cats are just youngsters. It’s great to know that whenever they need the vet, we know just where to take them – a place that puts their needs above everything else. And makes a good coffee.

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