Northwest NEWS

February 11, 2002

Features

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Kenmore vet makes house calls but just for cats

by Deborah Stone
   Features Writer
   Kenmore veterinarian Dr. Laura Monahan will tell you that she loves animals, all animals, but that she has a particular affinity for cats.
   She says, "Cats have more personality packed in them per pound than any other species I've treated. They make me laugh because they can be such hams. They're also smart creatures who have definite opinions about how they should be treated and they're certainly not afraid to tell you this. Basically, they fascinate me."
   Monahan has made it her passion to treat cats and only cats, but exclusively on a house call basis.
   Her practice, Feline Home Health Care, is the first house call veterinarian service in the greater Seattle area to solely care for cats.
   Although large animal veterinarians routinely make farm calls, there are only a few companion animal medicine veterinarians who make house calls in the Seattle area. Monahan decided to create her specialized house call practice for a variety of reasons.
   She says, "Cats are most comfortable and relaxed in their homes. They do not, as a rule, enjoy car rides, especially in a box and when it mostly involves visiting a veterinary clinic or hospital.
   "It is also easier to diagnose certain problems they are having at home, especially behavior problems. I can see how the cat reacts to its home environment, instead of how it reacts to being in a clinic lobby surrounded by other animals. In addition, I find that cat owners appreciate the convenience of having me come out to their home, as opposed to making a drive in all the traffic and dealing with a stressed animal."
   Her decision to go into practice on her own came after several years of working as an assistant in several area practices where she focused on feline medicine and behavior.
   Last year, she became pregnant and opted to go out on her own in order to have more flexibility in her work schedule.
   She chose a house call practice for the flexibility and independence it offers. In addition, she knew it would allow her more opportunities to interact with cat owners, as well as their cats.
   "I really enjoy the people part of my job just as much as I like the animal part," explains Monahan. "It's great to able to spend more time with both in a more normal setting."
   Originally a technical writer and editor, Monahan came to veterinarian medicine later in life. She did, however, always have a passion for animals and in the back of her mind she knew that what she really wanted to do was to be a vet.
   "I've had a calling for this vocation ever since I was five years old," comments Monahan. "It was a calling that wouldn't leave me alone, but I lacked the confidence to pursue it. I went to college and studied animal science and journalism, what they now call 'ag' journalism, then got my masters in biomedical communications and promptly went to work as a technical writer. After putting my husband through school, I finally decided to go back to school myself and completed my studies at Ohio State University, graduating in 1995. It felt so right to finally be doing what I had always wanted to do.
   "When I began working, I really didn't know what type of animals I wanted to focus on, but I knew that I had this knack with kitties. Other vets would call me in if they had a cat they couldn't deal with or who was giving them a hard time.
   "I somehow could take care of the problem and work effectively with the cat. I found their behavior unique and began to focus in on studying them more. Things just kind of evolved from that point."
   Monahan's practice has been gradually picking up speed since she began business last May.
   She can make up to five house calls a day, depending on their location, and primarily serves the north end of Lake Washington, including Kenmore, Bothell, Shoreline, Woodinville, Kirkland, Mill Creek and parts of Redmond.
   When she makes a visit, she takes a tour of the home and gets a thorough history of the animal. She notes interactions between owners and their cats and between the cats and any other residents or animals in the house.
   This provides her with information about behavior and personality, which in turn assists her in helping treat various behavioral problems that exist.
   "I do lots of behavioral work, such as dealing with inappropriate urination, inter- cat aggression, excessive scratching and clawing, cat manners, etc."
   Monahan also makes visits to help treat cats with chronic diseases and those needing preventative, geriatric or hospice care.
   "I can do many procedures and administer various treatments, but I can't do surgery or x-rays," comments Monahan. "In these cases, I refer owners to other veterinary practices in their areas." The cost of a visit is based on the standard price for the clinical service plus a travel charge, which can range from $25 to $50, depending on the distance.
   Cat owners interested in finding more about Feline Home Health Care can call Dr. Monahan at: (425) 402-3744.
   Currently she makes house calls Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and in the future she hopefully plans to expand her practice to include Saturday mornings.