The Kitty Clinic in Clinton Township, Mich.

The Kitty Clinic in Clinton Township, Mich., caters to cats.

Cat gets comfortable

Mindy gets comfortable as the clinic's "receptionist."

Clinic kitty Cricket greets all clients

Clinic kitty Cricket greets all clients who walk through the door.

 Cat hangs out in the back of the clinic.

RuPaul hangs out in the back of the clinic.

“With dogs, you can muzzle them if they get aggressive, but with cats, you need three or four people in the room to control this tiny thing,” says Dr. Tina Ruiz, a veterinarian at The Kitty Clinic, a veterinary hospital in Clinton Township, Mich. “Cats are not dogs, especially when it comes to handling them.”

Dr. Ruiz, who went to veterinary school knowing she wanted to work exclusively with felines, understands the benefits of providing medical and surgical care exclusively to kitty patients.

“Veterinary medicine has become extremely advanced, and cats are a unique species with different diseases than other animals,” Dr. Ruiz said. “Because we treat so many cats every day, we regularly see the same diseases. This allows us to diagnose our pet patients faster.”

Gaining Popularity
More cat-only veterinary practices have been opening their doors in the past few years to not only provide tailored medical attention to felines, but also to create a calming experience for patients and pet parents.
 
Cats can get very tense around dogs and other animals in a traditional veterinary office. This may result in a stressful—and unproductive—appointment.

“One of the benefits of a cat-only clinic is that our office is very calming,” Dr. Ruiz said. “There are no barking dogs here, just our sweet office kitties.”

The Kitty Clinic also accepts a lot of cat patients that are turned away by other veterinary practices because they were too aggressive.

“Even though cats are little, they can get so angry,” Dr. Ruiz said. “We still love them though.”

Fighting Misconceptions
The challenge of handling aggressive cats isn’t nearly as difficult for The Kitty Clinic as making sure cats get the veterinary care they need.

Although felines are increasingly popular as household pets and now outnumber dogs in the US by more than 10 million, according to the CATalyst Council, fewer cat parents take their felines to the veterinarian.

According to a recent study, one-third of pet parents haven’t taken their cat to the veterinarian within the past year because of “feline resistance.” That’s really a nice way of saying it’s because the cats just don’t like it.

In a bad economy, that outlook is impacting cat-only veterinary practices.

“Before the recession, the veterinary industry was moving in the direction of encouraging more practices to be cat only,” Dr. Ruiz said. “However, this is not the case anymore. Cat-only clinics have definitely been hurt the most.”

But despite the challenges, Dr. Ruiz expresses a true passion for what she does.

“At the end of the day, my favorite part is seeing the loving relationship between cats and their owners who visit our hospital,” Dr. Ruiz said. “We treat every kitty that comes in here like family.”

Learn more about The Kitty Clinic.

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

Instead of spotlighting a veterinary practice today, we’re shifting gears to showcase a group that works with animal hospitals to help shelter pets and pet parents in a very special way.

Mario, a three-tour Iraq War veteran from Colorado, retired from the Army after he was diagnosed with leukemia. His doctors told him he needed to take special care of himself as his treatments would suppress his immune system.

Pet Photo - Kona

Thanks to help from Pets for Patriots, Mario was able to get his dog, Kona, the surgery that he needed. Today, the pair is inseparable and enjoys snowshoeing in the mountains together.
Photograph provided courtesy of Pets for Patriots, Inc., all rights reserved.

So Mario decided to adopt a dog to keep him active.

“I went to the animal shelter and immediately fell in love with Kona, a Husky dog, even though he had some special needs,” Mario wrote in a blog post. “Kona had a leg injury, a respiratory infection and had been adopted a few times before, but was returned.”

That didn’t stop Mario from adopting the dog, although taking care of him was no easy feat. And when Mario found out Kona’s leg injury would cost him thousands of dollars to fix, he was worried.

Mario didn’t want to return his new friend to the shelter, so he sought help from Pets for Patriots, a not-for-profit group that connects shelter pets with US military veterans and provides access to veterinary care discounts. He shared his story on the group’s blog.

“The real benefits of our program start at adoption,” says Beth Zimmerman, founder and executive director for Pets for Patriots in Long Beach, N.Y. “By providing high quality veterinary care at a reduced cost from our member veterinary practices and giving direct financial assistance towards the purchase of pet food, supplies and other basics, we can minimize the chance that veterans return their new pet friend due to short-term financial hardship.”

Although some special exceptions were made in Mario’s situation since he didn’t adopt Kona from a member shelter, he was able to enroll in the program, visit a member veterinary practice and get treatment at a reduced cost for Kona.

Today, Kona is healthy and the pair enjoys daily runs and snowshoeing in the mountains.

Making Connections
The goal of Pets for Patriots is to reduce the adult pet population in shelters and enhance the lives of US military members and veterans.

“Think of us as a connector between the veteran, shelter and veterinarian,” Ms. Zimmerman says. “We support opportunities for our member Patriots to adopt an adult dog or cat (2 years old and up), a large dog (40 pounds or more) or a special needs pet. And we give veterans the resources to assure a lifetime of happiness together.”

Once a veteran becomes a member and completes an eligible adoption from a member shelter, he or she will receive an ongoing 10% discount on veterinary fees for the adopted pet. In addition, Pets for Patriots provides a gift card from a major pet retailer to help with pet food, supplies, toys and other basics.

“The most rewarding aspect of this program is that in the simple act of pet adoption, two lives are saved: The shelter animal who keeps getting passed up for adoption because they’re too old or too big and the veteran who gains a sense of renewed purpose out of life by helping a pet,” Ms. Zimmerman said.
 
Giving Back
Pets for Patriots recently added two veterinary practices in central Illinois—Beaumont Small Animal Clinic in Urbana and Country View Veterinary Clinic in Champaign—to its fold of member veterinary practices.

Siren was in the shelter for six months until Ben, an active duty Air Force veteran, recently adopted her. Ben told Pets of Patriots that Siren has already brought so much joy into his life.
Photograph provided courtesy of Pets for Patriots, Inc., all rights reserved.

According to a press release, the practices joined Pets for Patriots so they could give something back to those in the military who have given so much. All of the member veterinary practices, like the two in Illinois, must agree to extend a minimum 10% discount on all service fees for the life of the pet in exchange for the partnership.

Participating shelters have to meet certain guidelines. They are responsible for offering an incentive, such as an adoption fee discount, day-one essentials or discounted services with area groomers, sitters and boarders.

Joining Pets for Patriots is entirely free to veterans, who can enroll online.

A Bright Future
Ms. Zimmerman and her team are busy establishing partnerships around the US in areas that have large populations of military members and veterans. Her vision is for the organization to be national in three years, helping even more veterans and pets stay together, like Mario and Kona.

“If it weren’t for Pets for Patriots, I would have had to bring Kona back to the shelter,” Mario wrote. “Kona changed my life. He helps me stay active so I can maintain my health, and he also keeps me smiling and happy. We saved each other and because of that, there is nothing that can separate us.”

Learn more about Pets for Patriots.

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

A Pet Parent Asks:
Where can I get a list of veterinary practices that accept ASPCA Pet Health Insurance?

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Answers:
Good question!

Unlike human health insurance, you can visit any licensed veterinarian in the US or Canada with our plans—including specialists and emergency clinics. That means you can continue to use your current veterinarian!

Your veterinarian does not have to “accept” our insurance in any way for you to use it. They also do not have to sign your claim form for us to process it.

Pet Parent Q&A is a regular column that answers customer questions in an effort to educate others. This is not a forum to receive responses to specific inquiries. Please call Customer Service at 1-866-204-6764 or email cservice@aspcapetinsurance.com for immediate assistance.

It’s no secret veterinary practice employees work long hours. That’s why Seventy First Animal Hospital in Fayetteville, N.C., throws an extra special seasonal gathering for its staff—one that’s fit for the entire family.

“This party is something for the kids to get excited about and a way for us to include them in the holiday celebrations,” said Faye Barnes, Client Relation Specialist for Seventy First Animal Hospital. “We’ve hosted this party for three years in a row, and we hope to continue our tradition for many more.”

This year, 15 children, ranging in age from one month to 12 years, attended the event. The families enjoyed a potluck dinner, games, special goodie bags and even a surprise visit from Santa.

For more information about Seventy First Animal Hospital, visit http://www.seventyfirstanhosp.vetsuite.com/Templates/contained.aspx

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

We told you recently about the growing demand for pet blood donations and the efforts many local veterinary practices are making to help. One practice, Far Country Animal Hospital in Palmer, Alaska, set up a local pet blood donation program as a major initiative for its region.

“Before we started our Canine Blood Bank Program, blood products had to be flown in from California, which sometimes meant life or death for the pet,” said Michael Whittington, a veterinarian at Far Country Animal Hospital. “During emergency situations, we’d bring in our own pets and do a spot transfusion, meaning the injured dog would be on one table and our donor dog would be on the next.”

While this worked as a last available option, the practice saw a need for an official program. To set up the program, a member of the veterinary team took the initiative and received advice from a veterinarian who had experience with blood banks in the past. With this direction, Far Country Animal Hospital was able to open its own Canine Blood Bank in 2009. 

Today, the hospital has a growing pool of pet parents who commit to bringing their pets in to donate blood every 2 or 3 months, allowing the practice to have a ready supply of blood products on hand at all times. In addition, the veterinary practice extended its hours until 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and around the clock over the weekend to accommodate as many pet patients as possible.

Far Country Animal Hospital also supplies products to other practices in Alaska for a reduced fee. These practices now have the option to receive their blood products much faster than before Far County’s program started.

To be eligible to donate blood, dogs must weigh at least 50 pounds, be in fine health, have a good temperament, be up-to-date on canine rabies and distemper-parvo vaccinations and not be taking any prescribed medications or have a history of pregnancy.

In return, the charitable canines’ parents can expect rewards such as $300 worth of yearly blood testing, one unit of blood or plasma for every unit donated should their dog ever need it and a “Canine Hero” blood donor bandana for their pooch. After the first year of donations, dogs receive a “Canine Hero” ID tag, which identifies them as an official donor.

To read more about Far Country Animal Hospital and its Canine Blood Bank program, visit http://farcountrypets.com/index.php

To submit a story about a veterinary practice, email me!

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Veterinary Clinic Spotlight

When our office hosts a blood drive, I’m quick to sign up because I think donating blood can help save human lives.

But it got me thinking: What about our pets?

Just like humans who experience a trauma or major surgery, pets also require blood transfusions after a devastating accident.

The need for pet blood donations is growing more than ever, according to a recent article in USA Today. Advances in veterinary medicine and pet parents willing to do anything to save their dogs and cats are fueling the demand.

Typically, veterinary practices either rely on in-house donors or an animal blood bank. As there are only a handful of such banks in the US, many practices do not have local options, and the only way to get donations is via overnight mail.

That is why many practices, including Newton Veterinary Hospital in Newton, New Jersey, are opening their own blood bank. This way, blood products are stored onsite and are available at a moment’s notice. In the case of Newton Veterinary Hospital, it is the region’s only pet blood bank for 60 miles.

Practices rely on pet parents to bring in their furry friends to donate blood. While any dog or cat can be tested for eligibility, mild mannered animals tend to be the best donors. The process takes about 10 minutes, and the donation lasts for a month. 

Pets that regularly donate can receive special incentives, ranging from free food and veterinary services to a complimentary blood transfusion should the pet ever need it.

Talk to your local veterinary practice for pet blood donation opportunities in your area!

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Pet Health Insurance Headlines

WELCOME,
PET PARENTS!

As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

Meet the Author

Julia H.

Social Media Coordinator

Pet Parent to:

Lucy, a 7-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

Blog Guidelines

While we’ll strive to present all viewpoints on this blog, comments will be reviewed before posting. Offensive or inappropriate language, off-topic remarks and comments containing personal policy information will not be featured.

Also, conditions discussed in this blog aren’t necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. For full coverage terms, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your plan.

As always, if you have a question about your plan, call us at 1-866-204-6764.

*Note: While these testimonials may include examples of recent claims payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.