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What is a Cat Friendly Practice?

The AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) seeks to encourage and facilitate good quality veterinary care for cats. However, the AAFP recognizes that there are unique challenges and difficulties in bringing your cat to a veterinary practice, including:


  • Cats often do not travel well.

  • Cats do not feel safe when they are away from their normal home territory.

  • Cats are highly sensitive to unusual sights, sounds and smells.

  • Most cats prefer quiet and solitude.

  • Most cats are highly susceptible to stress and anxiety.

  • Most cats are highly stressed by dogs and other cats being in close proximity at the practice.

  • Cats need to be handled gently, with care and respect in the practice.

  • Cats have unique medical requirements that Cat Friendly Practices are capable of providing.


The AAFP established the Cat Friendly Practice® program to help veterinary practices meet the wide range of unique needs of cats in a veterinary practice setting. An extensive checklist was designed to demonstrate the following qualities of a Cat Friendly Practice:


  • They make an effort to have a calming environment.

  • They have incorporated a waiting room/area that reduces stress associated with noise, other pets or unfamiliar smells (methods can include feline-only area, separate space with barrier blocking visual contact, cat-only appointment times, going directly into the exam room, etc.).

  • Staff are trained to understand the individualized needs of cats including feline specific facial and behavior cues.

  • They implement the Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines to facilitate a more positive experience.

  • They use a slow approach to achieve positive results.

  • They develop an individual plan based on your cat's specific needs, preferences and behaviors.

  • They implement ways to make you and your cat be as comfortable as possible.

  • Staff continually obtain education on the most current feline research and guidelines.

  • They will help ensure that you are a valuable member of your cat's healthcare team and help you understand your cat's needs and what you can do at home to ensure they get the care they need.

  • Many use synthetic feline facial pheromones for a calming effect.

  • Many have a feline-only examination room that provides a safe, non-threatening area where cats can be examined calmly and effectively.

  • They have experience to recognize subtle, early signs of fear or anxiety and adapt appropriately.

  • Their cat ward, hospitalization area and operating room have been assessed to include appropriate feline equipment, tools and procedures.

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