Humor: Roll your eyes: The “indoor-only” cat has fleas

Humor: Roll your eyes: The “indoor-only” cat has fleas

Enjoy this tongue-in-cheek "tip" on how to handle cat owners, because while the eye roll may not be the most effective client education tool out there, it may be the most satisfying.
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Jan 21, 2016

Every member of a small animal practice knows there’s a difference between cat clients and dog clients. That’s why I’m going to focus on one of my favorite tips for success with a cat client whose “indoor” cat is flea-infested. Cat owners, just like their beloved pets, require a great deal of finesse and skill when handled. (And, yes, that last line came with a wink only to be followed by healthy heap of sarcasm in the fictional scenario that follows.)

Rolling your eyes always works

While examining your “indoor-only” cat patient, you notice the telltale signs of the presence of fleas. Slyly ask the owner if the cat is indeed indoor only. When the owner insists that yes, “Peaches never goes outside, ever, not at all,” now’s your chance!

Visibly exchange a skeptical look with your restrainer—er, veterinary technician—in the room and then roll your eyes. Pop back up from your hunting mission with a flea pinched between your fingertips. I find that “Ah-ha!” is an effective and delicate way to let the owners know that their pet has parasites.

While you and your technician do the “handling a patient who is infested” heebie-jeebie dance, apply a dose of your clinic’s preferred flea medication. I find it helps educate your client to explain exactly how many fleas are probably residing within their house at this exact moment. Try to make a few fleas on their indoor cat sound like a scary movie trailer with no sign of a happy ending. Don’t forget to keep shuddering during your discussion on the flea life cycle.

Keep in mind that while rolling my eyes has served me well over the course of my career, the approach may need some tweaking to fit into your everyday routines at work. Click on the following links for more information on how to improve feline visits, low-stress handling and flea-associated illness in cats or client handouts for cat owners.

Remember, your feline patient is “just a cat,” which we all know is really just a small dog.

Author Mary Van de Putte has been a veterinary technician practicing in south Louisiana for 15 years. She is a contributor for the Veterinary Humor Facebook page.