Although most cats don't go to the veterinarian regularly, 83 percent visit the veterinarian during the first year of ownership,
according to the recent Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study III: Feline Findings. Clearly if you're committed to a renewed focus
on feline healthcare, that first year of ownership, whether the cat is a kitten or adult, presents the most significant window
of opportunity to build a client bond and establish the importance of ongoing preventive care. It's up to you to make that
first visit an informative, instructive and satisfying experience.
What can a practice do to make that first visit really count? First consider the image your practice presents to cat owners.
This includes your facility, promotional materials and even the attitudes of your team members. On the next pages, you'll
find solutions for every member of the veterinary team to contribute to successful cat visits.
On the phone
When an owner speaks with a client service representative to schedule her cat's first visit, is she wowed by the individualized
attention you offer? Train your client service representative to tell new cat owning callers that your practice takes extra
special care of cats. For example, clients representatives can spend time learning the age of the cat, whether this is the
first cat the caller has owned and whether the owners have any concerns about their cat's health or the first visit to the
Based on the owner's responses, prepare a variety of "go to" materials to mail, email or link to via the practice website.
This is also the perfect time to determine a new client's preferred mode of communication, get all of her current contact
information and enter the information into the practice management software.
A first-time cat owner may not know that a visit to the veterinarian potentially could be very stressful. In the Bayer Study,
58 percent of cat owners state that their cat hates going to the veterinarian, making it the No. 1 obstacle to regular veterinary
visits. The client service representative can improve the success of that first visit by offering to provide new owners with
specific materials to assist them in acclimating their cat to the carrier and the car. A practice can either create its own
materials or refer owners to the videos created by the American Association of Feline Practitioners or the CATalyst Council
available at http://dvm360.com/carriervideos.
Let all feline owners know your practice's philosophy is that a successful, stress-free trip to the veterinarian both begins
and ends at home. And your practice is committed to helping them with every step in the process.
In the waiting area
If your facility doesn't lend itself to cat and dog waiting rooms, physically separate the space with a room divider. Shelves
or benches let cat owners raise carriers off the floor.
Remember, cats are much more comfortable on elevated surfaces. Feline-friendly artwork and reading materials are also a nice
touch to make clients feel at home.