Meet: A Cat Hospital:

Making felines feel at home is job No. 1 at cat hospital

(From right) Dr. Bruce Henault conducts a feline echocardiogram with the assistance of Dr. Heather Zamzow and veterinary assistant Jeran Hillstead at A Cat Hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013.

Name of business: A Cat Hospital

Address: 2758 N. Green Valley Parkway, Henderson, NV 89014

Phone: 454-4400

Email: [email protected]


Hours of operation: 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday

Owned/operated by: Dr. Trish Auge and Dr. David Drake. Veterinary associates are Dr. Brian McAllister and Dr. Heather Zamzow

In business since: 1986

Describe your business.

We provide veterinary care for cats, plus boarding and grooming for cats.

Who are your customers?

Our clients are anyone who has a cat. Our favorite and best clients are people who are “crazy about cats.”

What do you love about cats that made you want to have a hospital for them?

I was not a cat person when I was growing up. My family was a “dog people” family. It wasn’t until I was in veterinary school that my roommate, also a veterinary student, taught me about cats. She taught me that cats have a unique personality. Cats were a more laid-back pet. After I graduated, I met my future husband, also a veterinarian, at a Las Vegas veterinary conference. At the time, I was a relief doctor, working for veterinarians who needed time off. Then suddenly, “the light bulb came on” to create an animal hospital just for cats. It was an important need for cats that we often compare to having a pediatrician for children.

Dr. Trish Auge of A Cat Hospital

Dr. Trish Auge of A Cat Hospital with patient Barbarella there for kidney issues and more Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Launch slideshow »

What techniques do you use to keep them calm and relaxed during a visit?

Working with cats only is an enriching experience. Once people understand cats, they feel enlightened by them. We have seen many people with their story of not liking cats, until they met “the one.” They key is to just relax and learn the personality of each cat. Then it clicks.

Most days that we see and examine cats, they are understandably scared. When cats are frightened, they do act predictably unpredictable. Often, the cat owners are unaware of the best way to handle their animals. That is where we come in. It takes a long time to learn the signals that cats are giving out. Some cats need a lot of TLC, and some eye contact can be good in brief amounts; other cats need to have a soft voice, no eye contact and as little touch as possible.

What makes your business unique?

It’s our philosophy of a calm attitude and treatment toward cats. It naturally starts with not having barking dogs around. Some cats may be comfortable with their family dogs but not strange dogs with new smells and noises. We constantly communicate with each other about how to keep the cats calm, always looking for new ideas that cater to cats. The importance of the soft, almost whispering, calm voices cannot be stressed enough. Fast, sudden movements are a “no-no” with cats. Loud voices, waving their hands a lot and inadvertently constantly tapping the table, or the cat, makes for a stressed feline.

What is your business philosophy?

Our philosophy is to create a better level of medical care for cats whereby we satisfy their sensitive needs with a calm and caring gentleness. Pampering the cats is part of our everyday goal. We try to go the extra mile to help the cats relax. Small clues from each cat tell us if we are successful. One of our plans is to not use force; to not scruff the cats, which is restraining the cat by firmly grasping the skin and fur over the lower neck. Scruffing the cats is a good control measure but not always a pleasant sight to see. Scruffing kittens by the kitten’s mother is cute; scruffing an adult cat is not cute to most owners. Watching the facial tenseness, where the cat is looking, the size of the pupils, the ears and if they are held forward, back, or down.

What’s the most important part of your job?

Saving cats and helping cat owners enjoy their companionship. Coming to work, we never know what we will come across in the exam room. Providing affordable care is essential in this financial climate. We can have the expertise to do the most elaborate surgical procedure, but if our client cannot afford it, that cat will be denied a possibly life-saving surgery.

Another important part of our job is to protect ourselves when working with cats. When cats are “fully armed,” as we call it, when they have all of their claws and teeth, they can become very dangerous. We understand that cats are stressed and not feeling well. Bites and scratches can become infected, cause our team members to lose time from work, create doctor or hospital visits, and suffer excruciating pain. Therefore, it is part of our job to be gentle, compassionate, and yet protect ourselves. Every day we encounter clients who do not realize how dangerous and serious it is for us to be hurt.

What is the hardest part about doing business in Las Vegas?

The hardest part is how much the economy affects whether people are able to provide good care for their pets. When the economy was good, business was good. Cat owners had discretionary money to do preventive care and seek veterinary care when they first noticed a problem. Unfortunately, now more cat owners wait a long time to seek treatment, or they opt for deserting the cat or euthanasia.

What is the best part about doing business in Las Vegas?

The best part is that the community factor is growing. In the past, we saw many people with cats move here, stay a while, then move away. Now more people stay. As more families moved here and have graduated high school here, found a job, this is home to them. We see more extended families as more families move closer to each other in Las Vegas and Henderson. New houses and apartments are being built again. This is a good indicator that people will take better care of their cats.

Tags: Business