It is hard to believe that November is already here. I remember Halloween coming up and thinking to myself that it was time to write my monthly blog, then some sad, happy and unexpected events occurred and just like that, it is already the 24th of November! Before we know it 2016 will have arrived and so I thought I would share with you some of our plans for the upcoming year.

Westway Animal Clinic is committed to providing high quality care for your furry family members. That said we are always looking for ways to further raise our own standards. Becoming an AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) Accredited practice was a proud moment for us and now that we have achieved that goal and are maintaining this status, we are setting our sights on yet another “bar raising” standard. In 2016 we will be working towards becoming a Cat Friendly Practice. This is a program driven by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) that provides guidelines to veterinary practices to help shape their attitudes, continuing education focuses and facilities towards ensuring a more feline friendly environment. Creating this atmosphere within our practice will ensure a more relaxing and less stressful visit for your cat while allowing us to be more efficient – ultimately we are hoping to be able to provide better health care for our feline patients. When they are less stressed we have the ability to perform more complete health assessments and obtain more accurate information about their overall health (as they will not be displaying abnormal behaviours brought on by fear, stress and/or anxiety).

Recent statistics indicate that more than 86 million cats are loved as pets, compared to 78 million dogs. While so many cats are “running households” across North America, statistics also show that far less of them make their way into the vet clinic for routine health care. One of the primary reasons for this is that cats don’t respond well to being removed from their home environment. This combined with the fact that many cat owners do not recognize the need for routine wellness check-ups and preventive health care, leads to important vet visits being missed to the detriment of our feline companions.

Our existing focus on pain management has also raised much discussion around cats. Just as we know our dogs and cats are not tiny, furry humans we recognize that cats are not just little dogs with pointier ears, longer whiskers and sharper attitudes! Pain management in cats is completely different to that in dogs; there are medications specific to cats and medications that cannot be given in the same way or for the same time frame as we can for dogs. With this in mind, our practice has long been focused on having protocols specific to the different species we treat. Being accredited by AAHA means that we have already met many of the requirements for the Cat Friendly Program application. Of course, with a 7 page checklist to complete, there are still some team continuing education components and pain management protocols that we need to complete.

As many of our clients are already aware, we have recently been working closely with the Etobicoke Humane Society (EHS). As their case load is primarily feline, we find ourselves dealing with more cats than ever before. Especially with the homeless, often less socialized cats, minimizing stress and fear is a top priority if we want to properly assess, treat and work with these special cases. The relationship we have established with the EHS has brought our whole team much joy as we have identified a new way to express our love for helping animals. The people at the EHS, especially the dedicated volunteers, show the same type of passion for their work that we have for ours and we feel privileged to have forged this working relationship with such a special organization.

Becoming a Cat Friendly Practice seems to be the next natural and logical step for us in our journey. This will be our project for 2016 and something we hope to complete for the good of all of our patients and clients. We look forward to announcing the accomplishment of this new goal with all of you and in the meantime will keep you updated on all of the happenings at Westway Animal Clinic.