No one likes going to the doctor, and then there are cats.
They are typically reclusive, cautious of anything that moves. Add in the strange smells and barking dogs at a veterinarian’s office, and it’s no wonder that about half of owners don’t make appointments after their cat is more than a year old, according to the American Association of Feline Practitioners.
Margaret Siems, a local vet, hopes to change that. She will open the Centre County Cat Hospital on Feb. 15, the first of its kind in the region where the only animals cared for are felines.
“I have always wanted to do feline medicine since I was little,” she said. “Everyone told me when I was little, ‘you can’t do just cats. If you’re a veterinarian you have to take care of all animals.’ But that’s what I wanted to do and I did it.”
Siems owned the Cat Hospital of Media just outside of Philadelphia until 2015 and moved to central Pennsylvania to be closer to family. She grew up in Huntingdon.
She also felt there was a void in her specialty — cats.
I hope for the cats’ sake that many more (cat hospitals) open up in Pennsylvania.
Margaret Siems, vet
Siems’ practice at 620 W. Cherry Lane, State College, could be the first veterinarian practice in Centre County to achieve the AAFP’s Cat Friendly Practice gold standard after they open and earn their certification.
“Between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh there are no cat hospitals,” she said. “It’s a fairly new concept. It’s something that makes sense when people stop to think about it, because it’s terrifying for cats to go the vet’s office. In a cat hospital they’re more relaxed. People own millions of cats, but most don’t take them because they don’t want to put them in that environment and give them a negative experience.”
The 1,500-square-foot practice, she said, is tailored to felines.
“This new concept is all about the fear free visit,” Siems said. “Everything in our building from the paint color to the music was designed just for cats to calm them down. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the AAFP got together and did all of these studies to figure out the best environment for cats going to the vet.”
Siems will see cats for general medicine, sick visits, dental care, pain management, nutrition and behavioral issues.
“I hope for the cats’ sake that many more (cat hospitals) open up in Pennsylvania,” she said. “I’m all about the animals. It’d be great if a lot more opened.”