Gulf Coast Scratching Post

Specialized veterinary care for your cat!

Low Stress, Cat Friendly Handling and Limited Restraint

Understanding Our Commitment to Minimize Your Cat's Stress

Cats are beloved pets and family members.  They make us laugh, are fun and affectionate, and wonderful companions to millions of people.  Unfortunately, the veterinary care they receive has declined over the past two decades.  This is not for a lack of love, but instead because of the following reasons:

  • The perception that cats are self-sufficient, which is not true.  See "The 10 Subtle Signs of Sickness"
  • Lack of recognition of medical needs - even the indoor cat has had an increase in medical conditions and parasites over the past several years.
  • Free or inexpensive adoptions giving the misperception that cats are inexpensive pets to own
  • Cat and owner stress associated with the veterinary visit

There are some basic principles that can be helpful to understand in order to optimize the veterinary visit from a feline perspective.  We know that kittens are more tolerant of experiencing new things and handling change than adult cats.  Young animals (like people) don't seem to get as stressed about the unexpected.  But as your cat gets older, changes in where they are and what is happening around them can create a great deal of anxiety.  They get signals about their environment from their eyes and ears, but their sense of smell is also a very important signaling system.  As a matter of fact, it's so important that many behaviorists say that "cats move through clouds of smell", creating another dimension to their landscape.  When you're a small animal that is both a predator as well as another creature's prey, changes in your stable environment usually mean that you need to be alert to trouble or threat.  Visits to the veterinary practice constitute a significant change and can be a significant challenge for a cat.

Cats will display a spectrum of responses to a stressful environment just like people do.  Some people can cope with challenges and the unexpected much easier than others.  It is the same with cats.  Usually cats will seek out a hiding place so that they can stay hidden from view.  A confident cat may sense that it can handle a situation and not display any anxious behaviors.  Others may freeze and not move or react very much when they are handled.  It is important to remember that these cats are still really scared.  Some cats will lick themselves or fidget in some way to console themselves.  And just as some pople are going to be more likely to lash out under stress than others, cats that have exhausted their coping mechanisms will often become aggressive.  Allowing them to stay hidden while at the veterinary practice or distracting them with toys or treats can help cats avoid escalating fear.

You are an important part of making your cat's visit less stressful.  We will give you resources that will explain how you can help prepare for a visit.  For example, choosing the right kind of carrier is very important.  Being dragged, pulled, or tipped out of a carrier can be very scary and it starts the visit off with a cat already more fear-aroused.  When we can remove the top half of a hard-sided carrier, your cat can stay hidden under a towel while we perform most of our examination.  Allowing them to cope in this manner can prevent them from progressing into more fear and aggression.  

There are other techniques that can be employed to allow your cat to cope better with their visit to the veterinary practice.  The doctor and staff have studied these techniques and use them to try to make your cat's visit as comfortable as possible.  We hope that this also means YOUR visit will be more comfortable too.  



Cats-Only Hospital That Meets Your Cat's Needs

What "Cats-Only" Means for your Cat's Stay With Us


Whether your cat is boarding or hospitalized, our cats only wards prevent fear caused by hearing, smelling, or seeing dogs. Cats may also become frightened if they see an unfamiliar cat, so we provide separate spaces where cats cannot see other cats. We take every precaution to keep your cat as comfortable as possible. 

Warmth is important for a cat staying with us in the hospital or boarding area. Traditional stainless-steel cages are cold and noisy. At our facility, we provide cages that have laminate surfaces and are furnished with soft and warm bedding. Your cat will have space for the following:

  • Comfortable bedding
  • Hiding place if desired – this is important in an unfamiliar environment to prevent fear and allow a safe and quiet place to rest
  • Vertical space if well enough to jump or climb
  • Food
  • Water
  • Litter box

Supporting You and Your Cat

Your cat will receive the best care in as comfortable and respectful an environment as possible. We welcome you to come in to see where your cat will stay and to visit during business hours. Remember, your cat will be most comfortable if he or she has the familiarity of items from home - feel free to bring a cat bed, blanket, a favorite toy and food.

You are welcome to call the hospital where Dr. Norrell or a technician will provide you with updates on your cat’s well-being. Just like you, we want the best for your cat.