What is CatCareforLife?
CatCareforLife: A Partnership of Care
In many countries, cats are now the most popular domestic pets. Their popularity continues to grow partly as a result of the unique pleasures of cat ownership, and partly as a result of changes in human lifestyles which, for many, mean owning a cat is easier than a dog.
Despite their popularity, cats generally receive much less veterinary attention than dogs with some data showing dogs are more than twice as likely to be taken to the veterinary clinic. Sadly, for many cats, once they have been to the veterinarian for initial vaccination and neutering, they may not be seen again until they have developed an advanced or serious disease.
Despite this, studies also show that cat owners care for their animals just as much as dog owners, and are equally willing to seek veterinary healthcare, but obstacles need to be overcome and clear recommendations need to be made to provide the framework for a proper partnership of care between the veterinary team, the owner, and the cat. The CatCareforLife programme aims to provide a clear platform for vets and owners alike to ensure cats can enjoy long and happy lives, through an effective and appropriate preventive healthcare programme.
The CatCareforLife healthcare programme sits alongside our Cat Friendly Clinic accreditation programme that provides internationally-recognised standards to help reduce the stress of veterinary visits for cats and enable veterinary clinics to clearly demonstrate their ‘cat friendly’ credentials.
Regardless of whether a clinic becomes officially accredited as an ISFM Cat Friendly Clinic, the need to engage pro-actively with cat clients is critical, as is the need to create a more welcoming and less stressful environment for their cats. Ensuring that the clinic is both genuinely cat friendly, and making sure owners can see the difference are vital first steps in bonding owners to the clinic. Making visits as stress-free and positive as possible, for both cat and owner, is a major factor in ensuring they will be willing to bring the cat back again. More information about the Cat Friendly Clinic programme can be found on our website (www.catfriendlyclinic.org).
Beyond a better clinical environment, providing a life-long preventive healthcare plan that both the veterinary team and the owner understand and commit to, is the best way of protecting the health of the cat and preserving the human–animal bond. The recommendations that follow, and that are also made in the accompanying owner materials, are all based on guidance from International Cat Care, its veterinary division the International Society of Feline Medicine, and other leading veterinary organisations. Many recommendations come from the ISFM-endorsed Feline Life-stage Guidelines and Feline Senior Care Guidelines that are published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, and are freely available online (see http://jfms.com and look at the free guidelines). This healthcare programme therefore represents a set of recommendations established by international experts and organisations, thus forming an excellent basis for vets and owners alike.
We recognise that not every owner will follow preventive healthcare guidelines, and that, while some owners will do all they are asked and more, others will do so reluctantly or, at best, sporadically. The CatCareforLife programme includes educational and motivational materials to help address this, but also recognises that a successful healthcare plan needs to be tailored to the individual cat and cat owner to meet their needs and expectations as well.