The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) is the veterinary division of International Cat Care. Through ISFM, International Cat Care works to provide education for veterinarians, veterinary nurses and veterinary technicians across the world to help improve the care that is provided for cats. The ISFM Cat Friendly Clinic programme is a vital part of our aim to try to make every veterinary visits for cats easier and more accessible.
Although in very many countries, the number of pet cats considerably exceeds the number of pet dogs, generally dogs are seen at veterinary clinics much more frequently than cats. One of the big problems facing cat owners is that a visit to a veterinary clinic is often a difficult and challenging experience. Cats are strongly territorial animals. This means that while they are generally happy and confident within their own territory (ie, their own home), as soon as they are taken outside of this familiar environment, they can become highly stressed and find the experience very challenging.
The whole process of taking a cat to a veterinary clinic can be highly stressful ... from simply catching a cat to put it in a basket, through to transporting the cat in the car, waiting in the veterinary clinic (often alongside dogs), being examined in the clinic, and sometimes having to be hospitalised. All these aspects can be difficult, stressful and challenging both for the cat, and also for cat owners. However, it does not have to be like that! Simple changes can make a huge difference and, while it may be impossible to alleviate all sources of stress, with the right approach, with empathetic handling and with appropriate facilities, much can be done to improve the experience for cats.
This is what the ISFM Cat Friendly Clinic programme is all about. We provide a wealth of educational materials for both veterinary clinics and owners (see some of the links on this page) to enable a better understanding of why cats get stressed during a clinic visit, along with simple practical steps to help easily overcome some of these problems. Cats must be approached in a very different way to dogs because there are fundamental differences between the behaviour of these two animals.
We encourage all veterinary clinics to make efforts to become more cat friendly, but for those clinics that want to go further and demonstrate they have made significant differences in their approach and facilities for cats, they can become accredited under the ISFM Cat Friendly Clinic programme. You can find out more about this by following the different links on this page, but to become an ISFM accredited Cat Friendly Clinic, clinics must be able to demonstrate that they are fulfilling a detailed list of criteria that importantly involves the attitude and approach of staff to handling and dealing with cats in the clinic, as well as certain equipment and standards (eg, cage sizes) that need to be met.
The ISFM Cat Friendly Clinic programme is open to clinics anywhere in the world and has been generously supported by our programme partners Purina, Royal Canin and Ceva. A substantial number of clinics have now become accredited, and that number is growing all the time. By looking for an accredited Cat Friendly Clinic, you will know that you are doing all that you can to help make your cat's experience as pleasant and stress free as possible when they need to go to the vet.