6. Feline decline
According to the Veterinary Care Usage Study, cats represent less than 40 percent of the patients most veterinary practices
see, in spite of the fact that cats represent 55 percent of the combined dog and cat pet population in homes today. We also
know that cat owners face physical and psychological barriers that interfere with feline veterinary care, from getting their
cats into the carriers to not believing their cats require veterinary care. Chip away at these barriers by making your hospital
more cat-friendly, working cooperatively with shelters on responsible cat adoptions, giving talks in the community and providing
helpful information online.
Since a large percentage of cat owners are not currently working with veterinarians, it's critical to find ways to reach them
where they are. And they're online in numbers well above the national average. In fact, there are so many cat conversations
happening online that it might be considered the feline "dog park" for cat owners.
Post helpful facts and information on the new health and behavior guidelines for cats (available from AAFP and AAHA). You
can also share the signs of disease and pain that cats show when they're not feeling well (available from the Catalyst Council)
to let cat owners know when and why they should bring their kitties to you for care.
Despite all this, the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study is actually good news, because it gives veterinarians a roadmap for
reaching pet owners. It also shows the areas that need to be addressed to help clients see the importance of regular veterinary
Use the ideas the study identified to take action in your own practice. There are materials from manufacturers and associations
to help you, and there will be more coming soon under the newly formed Partnership for Preventive Pet Health care, (http://PetHealthPartnership.org/). There's no better time to get started than now on the changes that are coming to veterinary practice.
Karyn Gavzer, MBA, CVPM, is a veterinary business consultant and nationally known writer and speaker. She says her job is to help practices "go and
grow" with training, marketing and new ideas. She is an adjunct instructor for AAHA and a founding member of VetPartners (formerly
the Association of Veterinary Practice Management Consultants and Advisors).