In a world with so many veterinary hospitals and specialties, it can be difficult for pet owners to choose a veterinarian that is right for their pet. This is especially difficult for cat owners. Cats have unique environmental, behavioral and health care needs that when addressed as a whole, can improve the quantity and quality of their lives' dramatically. The introduction of "Cat Friendly Practices", and cat only hospitals, gives cat owners a boost of confidence that these practices have taken an extra step in considering the special needs of cats.
What about the term Feline Specialist? What does this mean?
Just as in the human medical profession, a veterinarian cannot be considered a "specialist" until they have achieved board certification in their respective specialty. According to the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, "Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high quality practice experience with cats and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They must also be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of one hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests." In addition, Feline Specialists must maintain their certification by attending regular continuing education meetings focusing on feline medicine, and/or writing and reviewing case reports or articles on feline medicine. At the time of this posting, there are approximately 84 Active Diplomates, or Feline Specialists, nationwide and only 3 practicing in Orange County, CA.
It is important to mention that not all veterinarians in cat only practices are Feline Specialists, and there are Feline Specialists practicing at mixed animal practices.
So, how can I tell if a veterinarian is a Feline Specialist?
Feline Specialists are designated with the credentials DABVP(Feline) following their name.
When you choose to seek out a Feline Specialist, you can be sure that not only are you entrusting your cat's health with someone who loves cats, but they are also someone who has gone through the extra grueling steps to make sure they are providing the best care possible for this very special species.