New research has found cat owners have higher expectations of their vet than “ever before”, with one in seven owners asking for their personal lifestyle to be considered, in addition to purely clinical factors, when their vet gives advice.
In the survey of 1,000 cat owners – commissioned by Bayer Animal Health – it was found 18% want their vet to be more than just an advisor, taking up more of a health care partner role that fully involves them in decisions about their pet.
Elsewhere, it was found increasingly busy lifestyles led by cat owners are causing them to seek practices where convenience is available. For example, one in five said they would be more likely to choose a practice that offers online appointment booking over one that doesn’t and more than a quarter (26%) want to receive regular reminders about when preventive health care is due.
According to Bayer, the research results have also shown access to online information matters to cat owners too, as a quarter said they would actively choose to take their pet to a vet practice with a website over one that doesn’t have one, while 54% turn to online information pages as their primary source of pet health care advice. A further 16%, meanwhile, use social media or online forums to connect with other cat owners online and seek advice.
However, this trend for seeking advice online could lead cats and their owners to be the victims of misinformation, said Bayer. For example, one in 10 cat owners think only cats that hunt are at risk of contracting worms, while more than 80% did not know kittens can become infected via their mother’s milk – probably the most common transmission method. In addition, 69% of cat owners do not realise Toxocara cati is a risk to humans.
Alternative Angles veterinary business consultant Sharon Wesselby said the survey results show there is a “great opportunity” for vets.
“If vets not only give appropriate clinical advice, but also make sure clients are well-informed and recommendations are tailored to be practical for each individual cat and its owner, clients are much more likely to engage with that advice,” she said.
“Vets shouldn’t be shy about letting their clients know how their recommendations are going to make life easier for them and their pet either. The same goes for shouting about their practices online and other educational offerings.
“Taking responsibility for compliance outside of the consult room in this way can be hugely rewarding and beneficial for business, as well as great news for pets.”