Cat friendly clinic

Cat Friendly Clinic is a worldwide programme that was established in 2012 by the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), the veterinary division of the charity International Cat Care.

The scheme awards veterinary practices for recognising that cats have unique needs, and making changes to their facilities and the way they work with cats to ensure that these needs are met.

The available awards are Bronze, Silver and Gold. Henlow Veterinary Hospital is proud to have been awarded GOLD in recognition of our excellent facilities and high standards of care for cats.

Why is the Cat Friendly Clinic programme important?

Domestic cats are descended from the North African Wildcat, a solitary species of wild cat. Cats have not been domesticated for as long as dogs, and for this reason still retain many of their wild behaviours. Cats often do not travel well and can become very distressed when taken out of their territory, where they may face new sounds, scents, people and other animals.

Our cats’ abilities to cope with trips to the vet will depend on their previous experiences, their temperament and also how well socialised they were as a kitten. By considering this when we think about their veterinary visits, we can start to make changes to make things less stressful for them.

Even one bad experience at the vets can cause cats to be fearful during future visits, making it more difficult to examine them and give necessary treatments. This is why treating cats with understanding, gentleness and respect enables us to provide them with the best possible care.

GOLD STANDARD Cat Friendly Facilities at the Henlow Veterinary Hospital

Henlow Veterinary Hospital has the following facilities to ensure that veterinary visits are as stress-free as possible for our cat patients and their caregivers:

  • Separate cat waiting area.
  • Cat-only consulting room.
  • Separate cat hospitalisation ward and isolation ward.
  • Separate cat theatre and prep area.


These facilities help to ensure that cats do not come face to face with dogs or other species whilst at the practice, which can be very stressful for them. There is space in the cat waiting area for carriers to be put on the benches next to owners so that they do not need to be placed on the floor. Blankets sprayed with Feliway are also available to be draped over cat carriers to help keep cats calm. Feliway diffusers are used in areas of the practice where cats are treated to ensure that the environment is as calming as possible for them.

Handling of Cats

All staff at the practice are up to date with the latest Guidelines from ISFM about how to handle cats with care and respect, to ensure that they are as calm as possible during visits to the vets.

We are a ‘scruff-free clinic,’ and will never handle your cats in a way that will cause them unnecessary fear, pain or stress. If your cat is particularly anxious or in pain, it may mean that we cannot do everything in one appointment, or may need to discuss calming medication or sedation.

This will always be suggested with the welfare of your cat as our top priority. If this is the case, the vet will discuss a plan with you and answer any questions you may have before proceeding.

Practice Cat Advocates

Our practice Cat Advocates are responsible for making sure that all staff stay up to date with Cat Friendly principles. If you have any questions about the Cat Friendly Clinic scheme or how we treat cats at Henlow Veterinary Hospital, they would love to hear from you.

Our Cat Advocates are: Isabelle Sikora and Becky Kitchener

Dr Andre Costa Pereira

Orthopaedic & Soft Tissue Expert

Andre graduated in 2011 and has been working
in the UK since 2013.

Since moving to the UK he has been working in busy hospitals, while training for his certificate in order to ensure high surgical caseload. For the past 3 years he has been the lead surgeon for a large group taking surgical referrals from the other clinics within the group.

He has attended many international congresses and courses to be up to speed with the most recent techniques and has trained with some of the best surgeons in the field.

He enjoys all aspects of soft tissue and orthopedics, but has a special interest in minimally invasive surgery, BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome) and traumatology.

He has a certificate in Advanced Veterinary Surgery and is an Advanced Practitioner in small animal surgery.

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