A successful cat prepares for the exam | Rare Techy


It’s no secret that veterinary clinics make patients anxious. In feline patients, it is sometimes impossible to understand what they are like in the clinic because of their fear, anxiety and behavior towards the staff. So, how can you better understand what’s going on with your kitty if they’re afraid?

In her lecture at the 2022 American Association of Feline Practitioners Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Colleran, DVM, DABVP (Feline Practice), and Margaret Gruen, DVM, MVPH, PhD, DACVB, explained different ways to help cats minimize their experiences, including for clients who record pets at home.

Entering the exam

How the patient is described can bear weight on how the test is performed. For example, Coller noted, if someone wants to introduce you to their husband, but he’s grumpy and doesn’t like strangers. When you meet them, you become serious and your spine becomes strong. This response would be similar to the description of the cat, and suggested using milder words to describe cholera patients.

“One of the first take-home messages is to talk to your employees differently about how cats feel, and don’t call them angry, mean, nasty, or other mean words, or call them spicy. Maybe it softens the message a little bit and I’m more relaxed when I enter the room and my team is more relaxed,” Colleran explained.

“These preconceived notions we bring to our interactions with cats come from the vast amount of information we acquire over time. But it really affects how we behave. [and] What does our body language look like? Because cats are intuitive, that’s how we feel about getting into the exam room,” she continued.

Since cats are very proactive, your behavior can change the test. Before entering the exam, Kalaran advised attendees to take a deep breath, exhale, and then try to enter the exam room in a way that made the cat feel safer than they thought. This will help the cat feel safe inside the room. She even offered the advice to speak in a low voice because of their advanced hearing and listening skills.

Another tip Collern revealed is to stop your staff from holding cat carriers by the handle. She offered this tip because, from personal experience, she would sometimes hit the carrier against a door, wall, or car when the cat grabbed the carriers and pulled the patient out. A firmer grip on a carrier can reduce colic and help kittens feel more relaxed when they come to the clinic.

Use of video

Most, if not all, of the clients own a smartphone, which gives veterinary staff an insight into a patient’s life that would never have been accessible before. When cats come to the clinic, their fear and anxiety can make it difficult to see the problems the client is explaining. To combat this problem, clients can be asked to record their cat performing tasks such as climbing stairs, jumping off surfaces, and playing with a toy.

“Cats don’t behave normally in the clinic [and] We don’t see the same kinds of typical behaviors we see at home, so a big part of collecting data appropriately is interacting with our caregivers. [Getting] “The data we need means we have to think about the language we use and how we ask questions,” Gruen said.

Grune and Colleren encouraged participants to take videos to obtain a baseline and monitor progress in treatment response. She advised that when collecting patient videos, veterinary professionals should provide clients with the framework they need to produce successful videos. For example, if your patient has a dark coat, advise the client to video in front of a lighter wall.

She suggested advising patients about lightning because if the lightning is bad, the veterinary team can’t see what’s going on, making the video useless. Videos taken by clients should also be shot at a wide angle. This way, trainers get a better picture of not only the cat but also its surroundings. In the case where the customer sent a wide-angle video, for example, Grune and her team noticed that the owner’s bedspread was torn, indicating that the cat was trying to climb onto the bed with its hind legs, ripping the fabric in the process.

When receiving videos, it is important to keep them and make notes on each recording. This will help employees stay organized and keep track of everything they see, including any progress. “Whenever possible, we store video clips by cat name and date,” Gruen said.

Detailed notes are especially important if the clinic cannot keep video. For example, one case included notes about a cat observed jumping off the kitchen counter. The video showed the height of the counter and the cat jumping down about 3 feet. Later jumping up on a bed showed the patient’s initial hesitation and inability to clear the object with the right hind leg.

“Things like that, we can’t see [on video] Again. [Notes] “Showing them how their cat is doing now can help us remember what we want to monitor because we’ve started some treatment or now that time has passed,” she said.


For an exam, practitioners sometimes have to rely heavily on the pet parent to get the information they need to evaluate and treat the patient. Getting the kind of information you need can be difficult because clients will often offer what they think you need. By using video and engaging the entire team with cats, a practice can improve the treatment of these patients and improve their quality of life.


Colleran E., Gruen M. PURRFeline Exam: Communicating with Clients to Get the Information You Need. Presented at: 2022 American Association of Feline Practitioners Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 27-30 October 2022.


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