The Simply Cats Story

Read our story below; why and how we started a cat only vet clinic in the North East? As someone said are we MAD, probably a little bit, like the average cat 😉

Phones ringing, dogs barking, doors slamming, the overpowering smell of lemon masking the subtle undertones of something not very nice and another traumatised tabby cat is placed on the consulting room table. After persuasion to leave the security of her carrier she is trembling, her face and coat are soaking wet with saliva and she is trying to get as flat on the table as she can.

This cat has not been in an accident, she is not ill, she is simply here for her annual vaccination or if you ask her and her owner, the annual stressful event where she is grabbed from her resting place on the arm of the chair in a patch of sun, confined to a plastic box, put in the car with her owner trying to stick to the speed limits but her appointment is at 4.10pm and its now 4.07pm the schools are coming out and there’s traffic queuing all along the road she needs to go down. It’s 4.15pm when she gets to the reception and is told that an emergency has been brought in and she’ll have to wait.

There she sits next to the yapping Jack Russell and the large malevolent German shepherd staring right into her carrier. As the waiting room is crowded, she’s placed on the floor much to the delight of the terrier who sticks his nose between the bars of the cage – a mixture of dog breath and urine fill her space as she voids her bladder.

When her name is finally called, she is taken to the consulting room, the vet is quite flustered as she needs to get surgery finished and she’s already 40 minutes behind due to the emergency so she hopes she can save some time on the vaccination by trying to do a 5 minute rather than a 10 minute consultation. Great start, the cat won’t come out of the box – she is tipped upside down and shaken.

“Everything OK, great, injection in the neck, back in the carrier, reception will sort you out ……”

On the drive home, the cat’s owner is still wondering about the availability of that new wormer that you can just put on the skin rather than give a tablet and wishes she’d mentioned the fact that she’s worried about the lump that has recently appeared on her cat’s chest but she didn’t want to be a nuisance and her cat was so upset she’d just wanted to get out as soon as she could. Oh well, at least it’s over for another year.

Does any of the above sound familiar? I know I’ve exaggerated a bit but all of the above is based on real life scenarios and that is why I first considered starting up a cat only veterinary practice.

Ever since obtaining my cat as a stray from the first practice I worked in when I qualified I have found cats interesting and intriguing. Clinically, I find their ailments challenging and rewarding to treat and find their behaviour fascinating to try to understand.

The problem I have in a clinical setting is that cats do not seem to have a good deal. Unlike dogs, cats are more tied to their environment rather than people. Taking a dog to the vets can be quite onerous on the owner if the dog is big, aggressive, frightened or boisterous but in nearly all instances the dog is not stressed by the change in environment because he has his owner with him so things must be ok because he trusts his owner – he may not like the place but it’s not going to upset him that much. Cats on the other hand suffer significant stress by changing their environment. They generally never get caged and transported unless something bad is going to happen like grooming, cattery and vets. This stress is exacerbated if they have to then sit in a strange environment with strange noises, smells and other animals. They don’t know what is going to happen next and this makes them feel insecure.

Veterinary surgeries are becoming busier and busier with the average consultation time becoming shorter and shorter to fit in the number of clients who require appointments during the day. This often results in clients being rushed in and out, perhaps forgetting to ask the things they wanted to talk about. Cats are often difficult to restrain as they are already ill at ease and can be prone to lashing out.

My Partner Paul and I were talking about such problems when we jokingly came to the conclusion of opening a “cat only vet practice” – a vet practice just for cats indeed, it will never work …. or will it?! As Paul does a lot of horse work, though he actually joined the Feline advisory bureau in 1982 😉 he did comment that cats and horses would go well together!!

What we want to create is a stress free environment for all cat owners to bring their cats to for an up to date first opinion service. We do not want to go along the lines of fancy equipment and procedures – that is what specialists are for. However please note that in 2008 Sarah passed her Certificate of General Practice in Feline Medicine. What we want to do is provide superior quality care in an environment that minimises the stress of an already stressful situation of having to come to a vet clinic.

The facilities are designed to optimise cat welfare and provide a relaxed environment throughout all aspects of patient care. Our emphasis is on compassionate care and optimal cat welfare, basing clinical decisions on a balance between the patient’s need and the client’s budget. We want to reduce the anxiety associated with coming to the surgery and hope to achieve this by providing a quiet, tranquil waiting area, free from other species, longer consultations of at least 15 minutes to allow both cat and owner to relax, allow a full clinical examination, discussion of problems and arrange a treatment plan for each individual case. The clinic is designed with your cat’s needs in mind and the staff are enthusiastic and comfortable around cats. The hospitalisation facilities again aim to minimise stress by providing roomy accommodation with access to hiding places and perches (where appropriate)  to allow your cat to express his natural behaviour in an area in which no other species are hospitalised. Feliway diffusers emit a calming pheromone to help your cat relax.

We chose the property primarily for location as that famous property show says “location, location, location” is vitally important, as easy access at all times and good parking is essential. This property has  a free car park opposite and is in an ideal location for easy access – not remote but with easy parking and not in central town with associated traffic problems of parking, traffic queues especially at rush hour and one way systems associated with inner city locations. It also helped that  we liked its character (Victorian built in 1899) and layout inside.. The property was initially a dwelling house but was part converted to a hairdressing salon for about twenty years by the previous owner. After many ups and downs we finally received planning permission for the conversion to a  feline only vet clinic. SimplyCats is the only exclusively feline veterinary practice in the North of England with all the facilities in one place, and not a branch of a larger mixed practice.

We hope you will share our vision in taking cat veterinary care and medicine into the 21st Century.

Let us take much of the stress out of taking your cat to the vets by joining us inside a practice designed from the ground up for the cat and its owner, you!

Please just call in for a look if you would like to see how easy access is, what a cat only practice actually looks like ;-), and ask any questions you may have.

For more information use the contact form

Clinic Opening Times & Consultation Periods   CLICK HERE

Clients Of The Clinic:

In the event of an out of hours emergency please contact the surgery on 0191 385 9696 and listen to the voice message to obtain the on call phone number.

In An Emergency:

In an emergency please try to phone the clinic ahead of your arrival if at all possible, this will enable staff to be ready to attend to your cat immediately!

Phone:       0191 385 9696

E-mail:        office (at) simplycats.net

Address:    Simply Cats Vet Clinic
                     12 Front Street,  Fencehouses
                       Durham  DH4 6LP  UK

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