Boosting Feline Clinic Visits
How feline care can be a growth opportunity for veterinary practices.
One thing that has amazed me throughout the pandemic is the healthiness and the steadfastness of the animal health industry. Our industry actually grew during the pandemic while we saw other industries struggle. Our veterinary customers found innovative ways to deliver the care that their clients and patients needed. There was a rise in pet adoption, which caused increases in demands for veterinary and over-the-counter (OTC) pet products. People quarantining with their pets created more of a focus on the relationships with those pets. Consequently, this also created more awareness around pet health, pet happiness, and general well-being.
One of the steady but underrated categories in veterinary care is that of feline health. Cats are particularly good at not readily showing signs of illness. They mask or hide their symptoms more than their canine counterparts. I wonder if the recent increase in time spent with these feline companions revealed any more information to pet owners or not. I would assume that an attentive pet parent would notice more about their own pets the more that they interact. I would also assume that feline pet parents experienced a similar increase in time spent with their pets during the pandemic as canine pet parents experienced. That seems like a great opportunity for our veterinary customers to be able to deliver more feline-specific messaging to these feline pet parents.
The numbers show that dogs come to see the veterinarian more than cats do. In the 30 years that I’ve been in this industry, the numbers fluctuate by a tenth here or there, but dogs always come out on top for the number of times per year that they’re seen by the veterinarian. I don’t believe that dogs are less healthy, or more prone to accidents. I think that dogs are typically front and center in the relationship with their pet parents. This causes more top-of-mind awareness of the dog for the pet parent.
Cats, on the other hand, can easily take a back seat. This is many times due to their own choices. Cats will often let the pet parent know when they want attention and how much attention. It’s common for a cat that’s not feeling up to par to require less attention from their pet parents. I still think that this recent increase of time spent between the pet parents and their pets has created an opportunity for our veterinary customers to educate their clients about what they might be seeing with their pets. Especially those feline pet parents.
Spotting feline ailments
There are many different ailments that can go undetected in cats. Pet Health Network (by IDEXX) once reported the top five “silent” killers of cats in an article published in 2018. (pethealthnetwork.com/cat-health/cat-checkups-preventive-care/5-silent-killers-cats) Because felines can be masterful at masking their symptoms and requiring less attention when they feel ill, many of these things can go without ever being seen by a busy pet parent until it’s a much bigger issue. How do we help our veterinary customer seize the moment and build upon some of the recent closeness of cats and their owners?
Most manufacturers of feline products have the science and information about the products and their effects on cats. Veterinarians often refer cat owners to these products or prescribe them once the cat has been seen by the vet. Educating these pet parents on what they may have been witness to during their recent extended time with their pet is where we should be focused. We can be a conduit of information for our veterinary customers. We can tie them to the information and materials that these feline product manufacturers may provide.
This can also be a growth opportunity for the practice itself. If they were to increase their feline patient visits, it can be a large boost for the health of the practice and the health of the cats that they serve. Discussions like this can be greatly beneficial for you as well. Being a trusted resource that has the best interest of your veterinary customers at heart is what separates you from your competitors.
Take the time to do some homework on feline aliments such as chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, cardiac disease, and cancer. There are many different preventive supplements, and treatment products associated with these silent killer ailments. There are still more preventive products aimed at feline general health and well-being. Determine which of your manufacturer partners have resources that you can deliver or direct your veterinary customers provide for their clients. Have these conversations with all your companion animal practices about the opportunity that may be the perfect message for getting their feline patients the attention they may need. Educational campaigns on subtle changes in feline behavior and/or hidden symptoms may be the best way to engage feline pet parents, as most would not intentionally neglect their cats; they just may not know that anything could be wrong.
Increasing awareness and educating clients is the best way to building successful practices and customer loyalty, both for you and the veterinarians that you serve.
About the author
President of Same Page Consulting Inc.
Photo credit: istockphoto.com/xavierarnau