Feline healthcare is in crisis stage, says Dr. Jane Brunt, CATalyst Council secretary and past president of the American Association
of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). Her proof? Cats are half as likely than dogs to visit the veterinarian, according to the 2007
AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook.
Dr. Jane Brunt
To improve this statistic, veterinarians need to make a habit of considering the globally recognized Five Freedoms when they
deal with every cat, whether outpatient or hospitalized. Brunt says veterinarians have a responsibility to provide all of
their patients with:
1. Freedom from hunger, thirst, and malnutrition
2. Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort
3. Freedom from fear and distress
4. Freedom from pain, injury, and disease
5. Freedom to express normal behavior patterns, as long as they don't cause injury.
Of greatest importance to cats is freedom from fear, distress, and pain, which have historically been difficult to recognize
and mitigate. To learn more about how to recognize and understand these challenges to feline health, Dr. Brunt suggests that
practitioners read the information that's available, such as the AAFP Behavior Guidelines and the AAHA/AAFP Pain Guidelines.
In the meantime, veterinarians must take a hard look at the care they provide cats. Dr. Brunt says doctors must adopt the
right "cattitude." This means learning about normal feline behavior and helping clients realize that some so-called behavior
problems are really indicators of health problems. It also means implementing feline-friendly features into your practice
and understanding that less is more when it comes to handling cats.