3 tips for attracting cat owners
1. Love cats and, even more importantly, love your clients' cats. If you adore dogs and tolerate cats, cat owners will sense it. Try to develop—and demonstrate—at least a liking for cats. Refer to cats by name. Remove them from their carriers gently. Don't automatically scruff them—over-restraint is abhorrent to cat owners. Talk to cats, stroke them, and compliment their distinct markings, world-class whiskers, or great personalities. Let them sit on your shoulder or bump heads with you. If a cat purrs, discreetly point it out to the client. Be sure your practice's decorations include cats. Consider letting a hospital cat roam the reception area. And if your practice logo features a dog, it should also include a cat.
2. Provide clients and patients a dog-free environment. If your patients include dogs and cats, you can't give dogs the boot. But even with dogs and cats coming through your practice door, it's possible to minimize dog-induced feline trauma. Offer separate waiting rooms or at least a feline-designated area. Build shelves in the waiting room so clients can place cat carriers out of dogs' reach. Board cats in separate wards, and treat and examine them in feline-specific rooms.3. Improve your feline-care expertise. Your ability to prevent, diagnose, and cure feline disease will set you apart in clients' minds. Learn about diseases with unique feline aspects, such as chronic renal disease, diabetes, and heartworm disease. Also study up on diseases specific to cats. Offer diagnostics important to feline patients, and become proficient in special feline surgeries, such as subtotal colectomy. In short, don't refer every procedure that's outside the routine. Develop the ability to do "advanced" feline procedures yourself.
Dr. Gary Norsworthy, DABVP (feline), owns Alamo Feline Health Center in San Antonio.