Here’s a set of feline statistics to consider for a moment.
- 90% of pet owners are seeking help with behavior issues,1
- Behavior-related issues are the most common reason for euthanasia in cats2, and
- They’re the second most common reason for relinquishment of cats to shelters.3
Were you aware that behavior issues were so prominent for cats and so devastating for their owners?
Maybe not, maybe so.
In any case, veterinary practices can truly help clients solve cat behavior issues in a number of ways.
One way is to offer feline calming supplements.
Jon Krouner, FoodScience Corporation, on behalf of VetriScience, told us, “Calming supplements represent an innovative approach to behavioral health and feline anxiety. These supplements offer a natural alternative to the 90% of pet owners who’d rather give their pet a supplement before medication4. And, they’re available in professional strength formulas at veterinary clinics.”
He also mentioned, “Calming supplements work naturally to support calm behavior and cognitive function in cats experiencing anxiety or stress. When formulated correctly, supplements shouldn’t result in negative side effects like personality changes, lethargy or dependence.”
Jon added that calming supplements are recommended for separation anxiety and times of heightened stress like vet trips, car rides, thunderstorms, fireworks, parties, or any unusual changes to the cat’s environment. Best of all, supplements are designed for easy administration in the form of tasty chews or liquids for picky eaters.
Do you have calming supplements in your distributor catalog? It’s worth taking a look.
Moving on, we also requested input from Jennifer B. Styrsky, DVM MRCVS, Marketing Manager, Behavior, and Ceva Animal Health.
Dr. Styrsky told us, “One of the newest innovations to reduce feline anxiety and stress is the Fear Freesm movement. Fear Free shows the veterinarian and other industry professionals (other hospital staff, groomers, and trainers) that treatment and care of cats does not necessitate the cat being in a state of fear or anxiety during any procedure.”
“Using pheromones in the practice is a key tenant of the Fear Free program. Pheromones create an environment where the cat feels instinctually safe and secure. These products also work in the home to help the cat feel safe and secure and can reduce or eliminate unwanted behaviors caused by stress. Some of the issues it can help resolve include peeing outside of the litter box, tension and conflict between cats and furniture scratching.” She cautioned, “But not all pheromones are made alike. Choose one with decades of history and clinical research to back up its effectiveness.”
Dr. Styrsky offered this advice for you to bring up the Fear Free movement and pheromone products with practices.
“Fear Free protocols should be incorporated into every veterinary visit. This may include giving pre-veterinary visit medications and supplements to decrease fear, anxiety and stress.”
(In addition), “pheromones spray and wipes help the cat feel more comfortable in the carrier and decrease the stress associated with travel.” (This can help eliminate the problem of getting the cat in and out of a carrier for checkups.)
Dr. Styrsky noted that there are different types of pheromones to help with feline anxiety:
- Facial marking pheromones can be used when cat owners are experiencing problems in the home, such as peeing outside the litter box and unwanted scratching.
- Appeasing pheromone, secreted by nursing mothers, should be used in any home that’s experiencing tension and conflict between multiple cats.
- Interdigital pheromone (cats leave when they scratch) should be used on the scratching post to help attract and re-train the cat to use the post versus the couch. (Visit com for additional information.)
The best thing about pheromones, according to Dr. Styrsky, is, “Pheromones work without entering the blood stream, meaning they can be used with any patient regardless of health status. Additionally, since they are available in sprays and diffusers means veterinary staff and cat owners don't have to ‘give’ the cat anything. They naturally perceive the pheromones.”
Please note: Another industry initiative focused on easing feline anxiety is the Cat Friendly Practice®. This initiative, established by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the International Society for Feline Medicine (ISFM), is “a global initiative designed to elevate care for cats by reducing the stress for the cat, caregiver, and also the entire veterinary team.”
Armed with this information, how would you like to make a big difference to practices and feline patients?
All you need to do is bring up anxiety solutions (calming supplements and pheromones) when you visit clinics in your area.
- Before you go, find out if they’re a Fear Free practice. If they’re not, ask if they’d consider becoming a Fear Free practice.
- Also ask If they currently offer calming supplements or pheromones for anxiety (be familiar with the relevant products in your catalog, so you can profile them in your discussion).
- If you have a chance, show your customers helpful resources specifically designed to ease feline anxiety, such as:
And as always, ask your local manufacturers representative for product materials and supporting data about the efficacy of feline calming supplements and pheromones.
It’s amazing what today’s innovations can do — and how you can help practices bring in more feline patients with calming aids.
1. Promoting the Human-Animal bond in Veterinary Practice. Tom Catanzaro. 2001 Iowa State University Press.
2. Practitioners AAoF, Feline Behavior Guidelines, 2004
3. Behavioral Reasons for Relinquishment of Dogs and Cats to 12 shelters. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. Copyright © 2000
4. FoodScience® Corp Campaign Development Quantitative Test” June, 2016 by Avena Brand Development and Schlesinger Associates N=200