Social Distancing, Sick Kitties and Compassion Fatigue

Human, we’re going to need some supplies and PLEASE more protein and less of these veggie things!
-Alberto

Hello Furiends,
As my regular readers may have noticed I did not write my regular Wednesday feature last week. The world has gone insane and our Female Human has been working hard to keep up. It’s been a bit confusing because, just when we thought we were going to have full time staff at home, The Human found out that since she has clients whose businesses are deemed essential so she has to go to work. Frankly, as frazzled as she looks I think she should just stay at home.

And speaking of frazzled there was a bit of a scare at our house this weekend. Jasmine was not feeling well (she was having “plumbing problems” if you get my drift.) This is a serious issue with kitties and especially kitties like Jasmine with kidney disease. There we were, with our sister Jasmine howling in pain and our Human in a situation where she and the other humans are told to “social distance”.

The good news for us is that we have a veterinary practice (or as I like to refer to them “a stabby place”) that is open 7 days a week. Yes, you heard me right, EVERY day of the week. Why is this? They are attempting to make themselves available for sick kitties (and other pets) as much as possible while also caring for themselves as well and looking to avoid something called “compassion fatigue”.

What is Compassion Fatigue?

When The Female Human went to the Cat Writer’s Association conference last year she attended a very interesting presentation about Compassion Fatigue given by Beth Stultz-Hairston from Pet Sitters International. The presentation focused on compassion fatigue for pet writers but also included information on compassion fatigue in the veterinary industry as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no big fan of those stabby, stabby places but , whenever I have to go there I get kisses and ear skritches and, if I wasn’t feeling great, I always feel better after the visit (don’t tell The Human I said this).

Compassion Fatigue, according to Dr. Charles Figley and Professor Paul Henry Kurzweg is, “… a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper.”.

Vets have two times the stress

Those people in the stabby places have to deal with 2 patients, we felines who, for the most part are less than thrilled to be there and our humans who are worried about us. If your humans are like my Human, sometimes there are even tears involved. As a feline who rarely worries about anything except being stuffed in my carrier, a loud sneeze or humans I don’t know coming into my house, I’m no expert on stress but I did have my Purrsonal Assistant find some information about compassion fatigue for me.

Reducing Stress For Patients

My stabby place built a whole new building to keep stress to a minimum and enhance wellness for all of their patients. Oliver and I did a review about this. Ever since we’ve been to the new place our visits have been much better and the rest of the Tribe never even knows where we’ve been when we get home so there is no hissing festival when we’re released from our carrier. It stands to reason, when the felines are less stressed, so are the humans and the stabby people but still, it doesn’t stop compassion fatigue for those folks who take care of us.

How Our Vets Manage

In addition to the fantastic new stabby place they built and offering after hour emergency services they also changed their business days to 7 days a week. This has been great for the human cat parents but it was taking its toll on the people working there. They decided that they would not do after hour emergency services but would still do the 7-day a week schedule. Those folks are doing all they can to mitigate compassion fatigue.

Good News For All

Even during these stressful days, and without after hours emergency service, Pend Oreille Veterinary Service managed to help our Jasmine this past Sunday. As I mentioned she was having some “plumbing issues” and was yowling in pain.

But, but, it’s Sunday. Where is The Female Human going with Jasmine?!

The Female Human called the stabby place, they said to come over and so Jasmine and The Human sat in the “outdoor waiting room” (translation, the car)

I’m not happy about this Human!”
-Jasmine

Before she knew it, The Female human’s cell phone rang and someone came out to get Jasmine. She stayed there most of the day and the good folks took great care of her. I’m thinking without the nervous Human hanging around it must have been much easier for them. By late Sunday afternoon, Jasmine was delivered to the car and sent home with medications.

“Human, I am not pleased with you right now!”
-Jasmine

Jasmine is doing much better and, thanks to the fantastic, compassionate folks at Pend Oreille Veterinary Service it looks like we’re on the road to beating this infection before it gets to her kidneys.

So folks, during these stressful times, The Tribe wants to remind you to be kind to all the people at your stabby places. Compassion Fatigue is a real thing. We felines know that all you humans are stressed right now but the humans who care for us kitties are pawsome, they deal with so much and we should give them a little love (from a safe distance and without touching, or course!

Oliver and Alberto Get Fearless

Alberto Opines on the Preparation

AlHeadOliver and I (Alberto) will be co-authoring this post as we each have a lot to say about the topic. Neither of us had been to the “place of white coats” for a number of months but the female human believes in this thing she calls a “wellness exam”. This means she takes us to the place of the white coats for no reason whatsoever. It boggles this kitty’s mind, if we’re well, why do we need an exam, especially since we’ve learned in our short lives that this visit to the place of white coats is not such a pleasant experience.

The day arrived and we were bundled up in our carrier and shoved into the back of the noisy moving machine. While we howled in the back seat, the female human spoke in a soothing voice, telling us this would be a “fearless” visit (there’s that word again). What  in the heck did she mean?

Oliver Opines on the Arrival

OllieHead
I was in the middle of a chorus of one the favorite song of my people, when the female human turned off the moving machine. The next thing we knew she was pulling the carrier out and walking toward a building. She opened the big door and we we found ourselves inside a place we’d never been before.PendoreilleVet

The first thing I noticed (when she moved the carrier so we could see) was that there were two signs, one said “Dogs” and the other said “Cats”. Hmm, very interesting.  As we are a feline only family, I wondered who these “dogs” were and when they would show up. Thankfully, we were never subjected to these dog creatures.cat area at Pend Oreille Veterinary Service

 

There were no smells to help me sniff out any information. The place was quiet and “smell-less”. Okay, so far so good. The female human roamed around to visit the “dog” area and then wandered over to the”cat” area where she inspected all the feline goodies for sale and made herself a cup of coffee. Nice she could entertain herself while we remained captives of our carrier.

She did finally offer us some cat treats but neither of us were in the mood to snack, nor did we want to indicate any approval of this situation we were in.

 

AlHeadAlberto Opines on the Exam

Soon we heard footsteps and the next thing we knew we were whisked into a room. AlDocAndVetTEchOh horror, what was going to happen to us now? Much to my surprise, the female human unzipped the carrier and invited us to come out and inspect the room. Well, well, that was interesting. I sniffed around a bit and then jumped up on the silver table to check that area out. The place was nice, no bad smells at all. As a matter of fact, there was a pleasant smell, kind of relaxing and music that this feline found especially calming. I’m a climbing feline so I hopped up on the counter and checked out the cabinets. To my delight, I discovered a jar with a bunch of feathers. Boy this place was all decked out for felines. Curiosity satisfied, I decided I’d lounge on the silver table. and wait to see what was next. The door opened and a very nice lady named Marsy came in. She talked to me asking permission before she stroked my fur (I do appreciate polite and respectful humans).   I took quite a fancy to her and found no need to run to my female human and hide myself under her coat. Soon, another lady arrived  (the human Alberto from FelineOpines looks lovingly at vet tech at Pend Oreille Veterinary Servicecalled her Dr. Ponsness) and this lady (although wearing the dreaded white coat) was respectful and very nice as well. Although both Marsy and the Doctor poked me a little and put a silver thing on me and listened to my chest (who knew, I had no idea there was anything to listen to in there), they talked to me and petted me the entire time.  I was feeling quite loved and calm. At one point, I even forgot my human was there as I cuddled up to Marsy.   When they were done, they let me continue to hang out on the counter and watch what they were doing with Oliver. All in all, an extremely pleasant experience.

 

 

OllieHead

Oliver Opines on the Exam

 

 

Oliver from the Tribe of Five with Dr. Ponsness at Pend Oreille Veterinary ServiceI had no interest in hanging out on the silver table but I did wander around and inspect the place, sniffing table legs, trash cans, etc. Nothing but calming smells so when Dr. Ponsness picked me up, talked to me and petted me, I was a happy camper. She and Marsy  made me feel right at home, even if they did poke and Oliver napping in the exam room at Pend Oreille Veterinary Serviceprod a bit (there was the insertion of something called a thermometer that I found objectionable but it only lasted a few seconds and, in their defense, they did apologize beforehand).   When they were done, I was allowed to wander around the room again and explore. I was so relaxed and happy, I actually took a quick cat nap while my human chatted with the doctor.

 

After my brief respite, I did some more exploring. Marsy grabbed one of the big feathers from the jar, waved it above me Oliver plays with a feather at Pend Oreille Veterinary Serviceand we began playing. I attacked that feather with a vengeance.  I was quite fierce and I’m sure I made her a bit afraid with my aggressive moves. I hope she knows I’m a good cat and would never hurt anyone.

I must say all in all this visit was good (except for the part where they told my human I needed to lose weight) and if the female human insists on taking us again I won’t even howl on the way over (at least, not much).

The Human Opines

Alberto and Oliver allowed me some space to tell you about my experience at  Pend Oreille Veterinary Service. They have employed fear free practices for a number of years (before the term “fear free” was coined.) When they designed and built their new facility, they devoted themselves to a complete fearless experience, from the beautiful and comfortable lobby to the exam rooms, surgery suite and every other part of the hospital.

fearless vet visits for cats

 

Dr. Ponsness took me on a tour of the building and I was impressed. The surgery and kennels are strategically arranged so that they are not  next to the examining rooms.  Examining areas are dedicated for canine and feline patients and the imaging/consulting room is set up like a human doctor’s office so the people as well as the pets are comfortable.

The facility was designed by a veterinary architect and when I asked Dr. Ponsness what surprises they encountered during the planning and construction of the new building, she responded that she was taken aback when the architect suggested the specialized HVAC system.  It turns out, that HVAC system is pivotal in the fearless and state of the art medical aspects of the practice. It provides climate controlled areas such as the surgery suite which has negative pressure. Negative pressure is critical in controlling germs and assisting with healing. The HVAC provides climate controlled areas to fit the needs and purposes of each area of the practice and controls smells that often cause concerns in animals when they are visiting the vet.

Pheromones and soothing music are offered in exam rooms, and, as Oliver and Alberto noted, treats and toys are available to keep the felines amused while they wait. Every space has been planned with comfort, calmness and efficiency for the animal and human clients.

I saw some of the feline and canine patients relaxing in their comfy “hospital crates” and the tour of the surgery suite was very impressive,. The  lack of “medicine” smells thanks to the HVAC system serves to keep pets calm and also helps the household stay calm when pets arrive home from their visit. In the past, our felines were welcomed home from the vet with hisses, swats and angry “fuzzy tails”. This time, because there was no “veterinary smells” the other three Tribe members were calm and curious and not a hiss was heard.

I’ve been bringing my felines to Pend Oreille Veterinary Service for years to see Dr. Ponsness and Dr. Smart. My fur kids receive the best of care and I would have argued with anyone who said better care could be provided there , until we made our first fearless visit to the new facility, that is.

I cannot stress enough the importance of taking your fur kids to a practice that uses fearless methodology. Even if your vet does not have a facility designed by a veterinary architecht, there are many methods they can employ to provide you and your felines with fearless visits.

Tucker, the Tribe of Five Alpha recently had two overnight stays at the new facility and I was amazed at how balanced and calm our 14-yer old guy was when we brought him home. Normally, it takes a few days for him to bounce back from an overnight at the vets, but not this time. He was his old sassy self as soon as we unzipped the door of the carrier and sashayed into the living room to reclaim his favorite chair.

The Tribe of Five all had wellness exams recently and all responded in a relaxed, unstressed manner. Five felines with diverse personalities all responding positively to their vet visit speaks volumes.

fearless vet visit oliver from feline opinesAnd one last note, the fearless vet visit is a blessing to the worried pet parents as well. I no longer have to face taking them to the vet with fear and trepidation (and feeling like the meanest person on the planet).

Are your fur kids fearless? If not, I urge you to find a fearless practice in your area.