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The Veterinary Nurse workshops 2015: feline patients and stress

02 March 2015
10 mins read
Volume 6 · Issue 2
Figure 2. Cats demonstrating offensive and defensive body language.
Figure 2. Cats demonstrating offensive and defensive body language.

It is important that feline stress is considered in cats in the veterinary hospital, as stress can negatively impact on the welfare of the individual in several ways, for example, stressed cat can often be difficult to examine and may require restraint during handling. Such handling can often further impact negatively on the animal's emotional state — such signs of stress related to the veterinary environment and difficulty in examining can make it hard to make a diagnosis. Furthermore, for animals experiencing a stay in the veterinary hospital, stress can increase the recovery time of the patient. It is therefore important to assess each feline patient and take measures appropriate to that individual to help them cope in an inherently stressful environment. As animals descended from a solitary ancestor, cats are often very subtle in their body language and behaviour (e.g. posture, facial expressions, type and frequency of specific behaviours), and as a result signs of stress can be difficult to detect. However, veterinary nurses are well placed to monitor behavioural signs of stress displayed by patients in the hospital. As well as learning such signs, being able to communicate them both verbally and through the use of written records will not only ensure each patient has the best care from nurse to nurse, it will also help any student nurses in the practice learn these skills. Stress in the feline patient was the subject of discussion at The Veterinary Nurse workshops 2015 (Figure 1).

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