Creature comforts expanded for cats
Monroe Street small animal clinic is taking the stress out of vet visits for cats with a cats-only annex located in the former Mallatt’s Pharmacy storefront.
Even the staunchest cat advocates will admit that felines are a little more, er, particular, than dogs about how they like to do things. So a visit to the vet can often be a stress-inducing experience for a cat that’s not used to frequently leaving the house, let alone traveling in a car while confined to a small carrier or encountering strange, curious beasts that slobber and bark.
It was this knowledge that encouraged the owners of Lakeview Veterinary Clinic, 3518 Monroe St. in Madison, to open a cat-exclusive annex to their practice on May 21 to better serve their most persnickety patients.
“Most cats do not like change — something simple like rearranging furniture can cause stress,” says Dr. Tom Bach, veterinarian and clinic co-owner. “When we force them into a little carrier and then make them ride in a car, this is not a good start to the day for most cats. In an effort to help them feel more calm and comfortable when they reach our clinic, we created a space that caters to their needs and quells those anxieties.”
The new Cat Annex features cat trees to climb and places to perch and play in, as well as private exam rooms complete with cat beds, cat trees, and cat calming scent dispensers.
The new clinic space is located right next door at 3506 Monroe St. in the storefront that was home to Mallatt’s Pharmacy for nearly a century.
The opportunity to develop the new clinic came at the perfect time for the Lakeview team. Lakeview Veterinary Clinic has served small animals and their people since 2006. With six veterinarians on staff, the team cares for thousands of animals annually and prides itself on being a neighborhood practice.
“We had outgrown the space in our building but loved our location,” says Dr. Pam Mache, veterinarian and clinic co-owner. “By creating the Cat Annex, we can now offer more appointment time to dogs in our current practice while simultaneously providing this preferred option for cats in the new facility.”
The availability of the former Mallatt’s commercial space also proved fortuitous, notes Bach. When the space opened up, Lakeview staff began thinking about how they could use it to expand. The Cat Annex was the idea that made the most sense.
Some of the anxieties cats experience when they visit the veterinary office stem from going to a place that includes dogs as patients in the same space.
“To ensure a safe and non-stressful experience for our cat patients, dogs are not allowed in the Cat Annex,” says Bach. “Some cats are extremely anxious around dogs. In the past, we would usher the cat out our back door when dogs were in the reception area.”
Bach says the response from cat owners so far has been great. “The clinic is quiet and less stressful for everyone involved,” he notes.
Puppies, adult dogs, and any cats still interested will continue to be cared for by Bach and his associates at their original, adjacent location.
The Cat Annex is uniquely designed to provide spaces that make cats more comfortable. There are cat trees to climb and places to perch and play in. The Cat Annex features private exam rooms each complete with cat beds, cat trees, and cat calming scent dispensers.
“This statement may be a bit anthropomorphic,” says Bach, “but cats are wary animals by nature. The vast majority have rarely ever been outside of their homes, so a car ride and clinic visit is a big deal. In addition to providing a quiet space without dog smells, we have cat treats, toys, and we are planning on getting a fish tank.”
The clinic also uses a calming pheromone spray that is applied to towels when cats need to stay at the clinic during the day. “This seems to really help many cats,” notes Bach. “For very anxious cats, we will dispense a safe medication that is not a sedative but rather has the side effect of making cats drowsy. When given an hour or two before an appointment, this can be very helpful for resolving vocalizing during the car ride and clinic anxiety. We also do house calls, which is a great option for some cats.”
As part of the Cat Annex, Lakeview Veterinary Clinic is partnering with Madison Cat Project (formerly Dane County Friends of Ferals) and will have an adoption room housing cats and kittens that are in need of loving homes. Drop-in visitors are welcome.
“We are very excited about the expansion and our ability to increase access to care for both dogs and cats,” adds Mache. “We are also very happy that we have the opportunity to allow the iconic Mallatt’s building to continue to operate as a neighborhood business.”
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