Coachella Valley cats recently celebrated the opening of their own special veterinary clinic in Cathedral City. The Cat Clinic is an amazing cat-only facility specially designed for the unique psychological well being and medical needs of our feline friends. When you enter the quiet serene waiting room there are no barking dogs! Tastefully decorated with colorful Laurel Burch wooden cats, the state-of-the-art clinic exudes a calm healing ambiance. Two adorable homeless kittens play quietly in a large enclosure. This is the only Coachella Valley clinic that serves cats exclusively.
Veterinarian Rebecca Diaz, D.V.M., is owner and operator of The Cat Clinic. In 1989, Rebecca Diaz left the San Francisco fog and a career in marketing management behind for the balmy tropics of Guam. In what proved to be a life changing experience, she found 2 motherless puppies and delivered them to Guam Animals in Need. Soon she was volunteering for this humane animal welfare organization. She became acutely aware of the plight of homeless animals and the lack of quality medical care for them. That led to a return to college and a new career as a veterinarian, a avocation that meshed well with her love of science and animals.
Dr. Diaz never forgot the conditions of and the overpopulation problem of unwanted animals in poor countries. Today her life is a balance of high end veterinary practice at the Cat Clinic combined with community service to neglected creatures. Her mission to help animals in need often takes her to third world countries. Dr. Diaz taught spay and neuter techniques to veterinary students in El Salvador. Later this year she returns to Panama to work with Spay Panama, a group that provides affordable sterilization and medical care. The group also goes into the rural Panamanian mountain areas, setting up an improvised clinic and performing between 300 and 400 spay and neuters in a weekend. The vets donate their time, sleep in sleeping bags, and work from 6:00 am until 10:00 pm at night.
During my visit, Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter brought in ten stray adult cats and kittens to be spayed and neutered. The Cat Clinic has a special arrangement with the group, and these surgeries are often quickly scheduled dependant on the animals’ capture. Dr. Diaz explained how Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) operates to stop the breeding cats from moving into the sterilized cats territory. The spayed cats have the advantage as they are healthier and can focus their attention on the food supply.
How did cats become her favorite animal? Dr. Diaz is quick to respond, “First of all, I can’t look at one without thinking it’s the cutest thing in the world. Secondly, they are misunderstood animals. You have to have a special feel for cats, they are a lot more circumspect and require gentler handling than dogs. I certainly like dogs and had a wonderful dog for 16 years, but I grew up from the age of 3 with a cat and have a special affinity for them. You need to get to know cats. They are not overly demonstrative, but they do love their owners.” Dr. Diaz is pictured here bottle feeding 5 week old Beamer.
How do cats and their owners benefit from having their own vet clinic? Dr. Diaz explains, “I wanted a cat clinic where there wouldn’t be loud noises including dog barking that stresses them out. When the owners come here to visit a hospitalized cat, they report their cats seem happy and responsive rather than stressed and withdrawn.” Focusing on cats exclusively allows a vet to develop greater expertise in their treatment.
What advice does Dr. Diaz have for cat owners? “Cats need to stay inside. There are coyotes in the desert. Cats go missing all the time, so please microchip them. Only 1 in 10 cats who end up in shelters are returned home, but this increases to 7 out of 10 when they are microchipped.”
All the finest medical care awaits Fluffy at the Cat Clinic. They have their own laboratory, digital x-ray machine, digital dental x-ray machine, ultrasound equipment, a state of the art surgical ward, and oxygen is piped in from the ceiling. Their website www.CatCityCat.com contains a wealth of information about feline health. The Cat Clinic is located at 67870 Vista Chino, Cathedral City, and you can contact them at (760) 325-3400. The cats give The Cat Clinic a “Five Star Meow”!