Vet’s cats-only practice makes purrfect

THE first veterinary hospital in Ireland dedicated to man’s feline friends is set to open in Cork after Easter — and dogs are definitely not allowed.

It’s the brainchild of Clare Meade, a 35-year-old mother of two who is building the cat hospital at Barnavara Hill in Glanmire.

Ms Meade, who is originally from Glanmire, qualified as a vet at UCD and spent the last 10 years working for a practice in Dublin.

She described the cat hospital as her “dream project”.

“Vets have recognised cats’ peculiar needs for a long time and dedicating a practice entirely to this species is a natural progression,” Ms Meade said.

Every part of the new practice is purpose-built to reduce the stress to cats during their visit.

The facilities include specially designed kennels with individual sleeping compartments where pheromones are pumped into the air to keep the cats in a relaxed state.

“The pheromones are artificially made and they are plugged into every room, just like air fresheners. They have an astounding relaxing effect,” Ms Meade said.

Feline-only hospitals first emerged in the 1990s in the US and there are now more than 35 hospitals in Britain.

Ms Meade’s hospital will be equipped with an operating table, ECG machine, ultrasound, X-ray equipment and a blood analysis machine.

It’s estimated that Ireland has a cat population of about one million.

While many are pets, others live a feral existence, trying to fend for themselves.

“I will be involved in a fair bit of charitable work by trying to improve the lot of these feral cats,” she said.

She’s already had inquiries from people living as far away as Dublin and Kildare.

Cats have been domesticated for at least 4,000 years, although recent archaeological finds suggest it could even be up to 10,000 years.

A recent study showed that 10% of cat owners would rather spend time with their pet than with another human.

Ms Meade will be aided by veterinary nurse, Lesley Stinson, who worked with Ms Meade’s previous practice in Dublin.

Ms Stinson is a big-time cat lover — she’s got 15 at home.

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