Have you taken your cat to the vets recently? After reading Jaffa’s regular columns in Valley News, I did wonder what all the fuss was about.

My vet is just 10 minutes away from me, and has always provided a good service. But I have always noticed when taking the cat in for his check-up, he was certainly visibly distressed by other animals present while in the waiting room for a few minutes.

My cat Leo, a Bengal Leopard, is 16 years old and had an unfortunate cyst on his head from where he had possibly been bitten by a rival cat. He is also suffering from what I term as ‘Cat Lazyitess’. He now does not use the cat flap to go outside and requires a litter tray.

With memories of the vet saying he was not very easy to X-ray when we last took him in, I decided the extra trip to Salisbury to see Jaffa’s would be worth a go. Being a specialist cats only veterinary practice, they would be able to help with some issues specifically related to cats.

Jaffa’s is around a 25 minutes’ drive from my home, and luckily, or unluckily for Leo, he had lost his meow so any yowling in the car was not to be heard, and hopefully this was one of the issues on which Jaffas shed some light. Being an old cat, and not having been checked over properly for around two years, a complete cat MOT was the order of the day. Leo has never really needed the vets, he has always been in good health, and if there was such thing as king cat and his servants, he certainly is that king cat!

On arriving at Jaffa’s, it is obvious this is no normal vets, a detached, prominent white building reminiscent of a luxury holiday villa, soon puts you and your cat at ease. Most noticeable when entering, there is no big reception area full of meowing cats or even boisterous panting dogs, as usually happens at the vets. You’re greeted in a small reception area by Jill, the co-founder and wife of Pete Coleshaw the Vet.

The reception is far different to the vets I have used before, no other animals in sight and a happy face asking us to go through to the cat Kitchen. Leo is still in his box with plenty of breathing holes. Pete introduces himself, explains what makes Jaffa’s a different experience. The assessment room is just like being in your own home. Leo is now allowed out of his box to explore. The room is void of any smells or scent. Pete explains this is to put the cat at ease. Cats are alarmed by smells of other cats and there is deliberately no cat pictures or ‘cat toys’. As cats are territorial, they do not like to see other cats. Leo is now roaming the room: after hiding under the chair for a while, he decided to come out and explore and be friendly, which was great! Once Leo was at ease with his new surroundings, Pete picked him up and put him on the assessment table where he was also allowed to roam again. I have never seen him so interested in a computer!

The initial assessment lasted around 45 minutes. This included de-fleaing, yes fleas were found, and we had not seen them or felt any itchiness, worryingly, as he is a big lap cat! Urine and blood samples were taken, blood pressure and the wound was checked.

The result of the MOT was Leo was in good health, his teeth were in excellent condition (that would explain his continued appetite then), his weight loss was down to age and the wound was on the mend. His fur was shaved around the wound so it could be treated properly and allowed to heal quicker. I explained Leo had lost his meow, Pete said this can happen through a respiratory infection and may not be obvious to the owner.

For the second part of the appointment, Leo was taken upstairs to have his X-Ray and where Jaffa’s really comes into its own. The outside gives the impression it is partly a house, but the whole building is actually a dedicated facility to cats! It has its own room specially for owners and their cats to have an operation or just waiting to be treated, and a room for X-Rays and operating! Unlike at the other vets where he was just taken from me, I am here with him, apart from when he is actually X-rayed (because of radiation). He is surprisingly calm and doesn’t even move.

The result of the X-Ray was not so good: he has arthritis in his upper spine. The X-Rays results are instant, this was not the case at the other vets: we had to wait two weeks for them.

Pete explains this is why Leo probably is not going outside – cats injured or in pain will hide it – it comes from the wild situation where an injured animal is usually the first to be eaten by a predator.

Leo was prescribed a cat painkiller and antibiotics and I was asked to return at a suitable time for me on Saturday to see if the medication was making a difference.

I was happy to report it was already making a difference. The wound was on the mend with no more swelling, and Leo had his Meow back, not all of it, but most of it, which was a nice surprise. The medication given was easy to administer, cost effective and cat appetite friendly!

All in all, an extremely beneficial visit and the extra travel time is actually made up for by the process being a lot smoother.

As a cat lover, I found the visit very informative. Pete was able to answer all my queries and Leo has definitely seen the benefits of the visit. Next step, hopefully he will start to use the cat flap again with a bit of persuasion!

Jaffa’s Health Centre for Cats. 52 St. Francis Road, Salisbury, S01 3QS. 01722 414298. jaffavets.com

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